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23:15 GMT +3 hours18 December 2014
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Lavrov Slams ‘Unacceptable’ Use of Force in Southeastern Ukraine

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Moscow believes that the use of force in southeastern Ukraine is unacceptable and condemns preparations for a violent crackdown on protesters in the country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

BEIJING, April 15 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow believes that the use of force in southeastern Ukraine is unacceptable and condemns preparations for a violent crackdown on protesters in the country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

"We are sure that the use of force to ease the situation in southeastern [Ukraine] is unacceptable," Lavrov told reporters after a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

"We categorically condemn and demand the cease of so-called initiatives to send security forces and army divisions that are in breach of the norms of Ukrainian and international law to quash protests," the Russian foreign minister added.

Lavrov arrived in China for a working visit Tuesday to discuss preparations for President Vladimir Putin's visit to the country scheduled for May, in addition to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

The Russian foreign minister thanked China for its unbiased stance on events in Ukraine, adding that the key to solving the crisis lies in constitutional reform for the country.

Moscow has demanded Ukrainian authorities stop initiatives to crackdown on protests in the country's southeastern regions, and now awaits an objective assessment on the situation in the Ukrainian city of Slaviansk from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Lavrov said.

Lavrov said Kiev's proposal to invite UN peacekeepers to solve the situation in southeastern Ukraine is "over the top," adding that the Kiev authorities are "inventing fables" to justify their "aggressive intentions."

The rallies of pro-federalization activists began last month in eastern Ukraine, with protesters in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv calling for a referendum on the autonomy of their respective regions. On Saturday, the protests spread to several more cities of Donetsk region, including Slaviansk, Mariupol, Yenakievo, Kramatorsk and a number of small towns, where protesters seized government buildings.

In Slaviansk, in the country's eastern Donetsk Region, Ukrainian security forces launched an operation Sunday to quash unrest by demonstrators who had seized local government buildings. At least one person was killed and nine injured in the clashes, according to local health officials. Activists said at least three people died.

Following these developments Ukraine's acting President Oleksander Turchynov announced the launch of a "full-scale anti-terrorist operation," to include army units, against pro-federalization protesters.

Corrected to reflect Lavrov's comments were made Tuesday, not Monday

Tags:
protests, Sergei Lavrov