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Published: Saturday March 1, 2014 MYT 1:00:02 AM
Updated: Saturday March 1, 2014 MYT 1:00:02 AM

U.S. urges Russia not to inflame tensions in Ukraine - Kerry

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States warned Russia on Friday not to inflame the situation in Ukraine and raised questions about reports of Russian armoured vehicles and personnel there, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Armed men took control of two airports in the Crimea region of Ukraine on Friday in what the new Ukrainian leadership described as an invasion and occupation by Moscow's forces.

More than 10 Russian military helicopters flew into Ukrainian airspace on Friday over Crimea, Kiev's border guard service said, accusing Russian servicemen of blockading one of its units in the port city of Sevastopol, where part of Moscow's Black Sea fleet is based.

Speaking at a news conference with the foreign minister of Colombia, Kerry said he had raised the issue of the airports as well as reports of Russian armoured vehicles and personnel in Ukraine with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"While we were told that they are not engaging in any violation of the sovereignty and do not intend to, I nevertheless made it clear that that could be misinterpreted at this moment and that there are enough tensions that it is important for everybody to be extremely careful not to inflame the situation and not to send the wrong messages," Kerry said.

"The question is whether or not what is happening now might be crossing a line in any way and we are going to be very careful in making our judgments about that," he added.

(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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