MOSCOW (Sputnik) — He said Moscow would continue urge the Ukrainian government to lift its economic blockade of the region and implement the Minsk set of ceasefire agreements, calling on Western states to do the same.
"In any case, we will not leave the residents of Donbass in trouble," Lavrov told Russia's Argumenty i Fakty weekly.
"Our efforts will continue to be aimed at preventing the 'hotheads' in Kiev from launching a new round of violence in the southeast of the country," he said.
In late January, a group of former participants of Ukraine's military operation in Donbass, including several lawmakers, blocked traffic on several segments of freight rail lines running from the territories uncontrolled by Kiev. The blockade led to irregularities in supplies of anthracite coal from Donbass, leading to power shortages in Ukraine and prompting Kiev to declare an energy emergency.
The Donbass conflict erupted in April 2014 as a local counter-reaction to the West-sponsored Maidan coup in Kiev that had toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February. Residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions held independence referendums and proclaimed the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Kiev has since been conducting a military operation, encountering stiff local resistance.
In February 2015, Kiev forces and Donbass independence supporters signed a peace agreement in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. The deal stipulates a full ceasefire, weapons withdrawal from the line of contact in Donbass, as well as constitutional reforms that would give a special status to the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. Despite the agreement brokered by the Normandy Four states, the ceasefire regime is regularly violated, with both sides accusing each other of multiple breaches, undermining the terms of the accord.