Lavrov blames upsurge in Ukraine fighting on Kiev troops

Lavrov and Kerry spoke in favour of “an immediate cessation of artillery strikes in Donbass.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sun 25 Jan 2015, 8:36 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:59 PM

Moscow: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking to his US counterpart John Kerry on Sunday, blamed the upsurge in fighting in eastern Ukraine on government forces he said were “constantly” shelling towns.

“Sergei Lavrov pointed out that an escalation of the situation is a result of Ukrainian troops crudely violating the Minsk agreements by constantly shelling residential settlements,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to a September ceasefire deal.

Lavrov also accused the government of Ukrainian President Pedro Poroshenko of failing to launch an “all-encompassing constitutional process” that would involve all regions and political forces.

“There is no progress in investigating numerous crimes committed during the internal Ukrainian conflict, either,” the ministry said.

Moscow said both Lavrov and Kerry spoke in favour of “an immediate cessation of artillery strikes in Donbass,” referring to Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland where pro-Russian separatists launched an uprising in April.

The statement said Kerry suggested that the format of peace talks be expanded, without giving details.

It said Lavrov responded that Russia would do its best “to spur the sides to a peaceful settlement” but urged Kiev to negotiate directly with the rebels.

Speaking in a separate phone call with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Lavrov attributed the spike in violence to Kiev’s unwillingness to hold talks with rebels on implementing the Minsk agreements.

The latest upsurge in violence which claimed 30 lives in the city of Mariupol on Saturday could have been avoided, Lavrov said.

“Instead Kiev has set a course for a further militarisation, announced new ‘waves’ of mobilisation, and ordered to intensify the fighting,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

Lavrov called on both Kerry and Mogherini to urge Kiev to halt the hostilities.

Speaking in New Delhi, US President Barack Obama said he was “deeply concerned” about the latest unrest in Ukraine and pledged to increase pressure on Russia.

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