ST. PETERSBURG, June 10 (RIA Novosti) – Kiev must stop its military operation in eastern Ukraine and start direct dialogue with independence supporters, otherwise the crisis in the country will continue for a long time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.
"The key to de-escalation of the situation is certainly the cessation of this military operation against the protesters," Lavrov said at a joint news conference with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
"Only then people, who you call separatists, I am sure, will reciprocate," Lavrov said.
Lavrov said that nobody is interested in continuing violence, but people cannot be blamed for striving to defend their homes and children.
The minister also emphasized that Kiev’s refusal to start dialogue with independence supporters in eastern Ukraine would only prolong the crisis indefinitely.
"The conflicting sides are Ukrainians, and to refuse creating conditions for inclusion of representatives of the south and the east in the dialogue means only to drag this crisis on for eternity," Lavrov said.
Violence in eastern Ukraine has been on the rise since the beginning of a special operation launched by Kiev authorities in mid-April to crack down on protesters.
The operation, repeatedly condemned by Russia, has claimed dozens of civilian lives.