European Union leaders were set to warn but not sanction Russia on Thursday over its military intervention in Ukraine after Moscow rebuffed Western diplomatic efforts to persuade it to pull forces in Crimea back to their bases.
Diplomats said that at most, the 28-nation EU would condemn Russia's so far bloodless seizure of Ukraine's Black Sea province and suspend talks with Moscow on visa liberalization and economic cooperation, while threatening further measures.
But they will hold back from further reaching steps both in hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough to ease tensions in Ukraine and out of fear of a tit-for-tat trade war with Russia, a major economic partner of Europe.
Moscow denounced the events as an illegitimate coup and refused to recognize the new Ukrainian authorities.
But Russia kept the door ajar for more diplomacy on its own terms, announcing on Thursday a meeting of former Soviet states in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), including Ukraine, for April 4 and saying it would be preceded by contacts between Russian and Ukrainian diplomats.
Lavrov said attempts by Western countries to take action over the Ukraine crisis via democracy watchdog OSCE and the NATO military alliance were not helping cooperation and dialogue.
"I want to very briefly say that we had a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the situation in Ukraine in relation to the actions that our partners are trying to take via the OSCE, the NATO-Russia council and other international organizations - action that does not help create an atmosphere for dialogue and constructive cooperation," he said in a statement issued by the ministry on Thursday.