MOSCOW, June 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov has expressed concern over Kiev’s apparent intent to replace dialogue with brute force in Ukraine’s east, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement following a phone call with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
“During an exchange of opinions on the developments in Ukraine, Sergei Lavrov drew attention to the urgent necessity to immediately stop the violence in the country’s southeast and engage in a genuine nationwide dialogue,” the message read. Further noting, “The concern is that some remarks by the Kiev authorities indicate they are trying to substitute nationwide negotiations, with equal participation from all its regions, for plans to crack down on protesters in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.”
Russian and German foreign ministers agreed it was necessary to stick to the principles stipulated in the Geneva communique of April 17, 2014. “Emphasis was on the importance of a thorough and objective investigation into the tragic events, with the help of the OSCE and UN, including the May 2 massacre in Odessa and journalist killings, as well as on the punishment of those responsible,” the ministry said following the phone consultation.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he would order a unilateral ceasefire in the east after his troops regained the upper hand on the border, but acting Defense Minister Mykhailo Koval said the plan was also to wrest control of the area in a few days.
Since mid-April, Kiev authorities have been conducting a special military operation to suppress the pro-independence movement. Hundreds of people, including civilians, have died in the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics in the east of Ukraine over the past months. Moscow, which describes the ongoing military actions as a punitive operation, has repeatedly called for an immediate end to the bloodshed.