Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asks Ukraine to "respect the will of people living in the southeast of the country"
LONDON, MOSCOW - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called on Ukraine to take urgent measures to build a “national dialogue” with all parties to the conflict.
In a telephone conversation with Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Andrei Deshchitsa on Monday, Lavrov “reiterated Russia’s position on how to resolve the political crisis in Ukraine”.
In a statement, Russia's Foreign Ministry said: “Lavrov called on the incumbent authorities to take urgent measures to organize a national dialogue with all political forces and regions in Ukraine and carry out a deep constitutional reform, taking into account their interests, and reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to support this process together with the European Union and the United States.”
Lavrov’s statement comes amid increasing tension in eastern Ukraine as pro-Russia activists took control of state buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv.
On Monday night, U.K. foreign secretary William Hague took to Twitter saying: “Very concerned by reports of violence in eastern Ukraine and suggestions of interference by Russia, which would be a further escalation.”
Earlier on Monday, Lavrov talked with his U.S. and German counterparts. In a telephone conversation with Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Lavrov urged the international community to help start a dialogue between all political forces in Ukraine as soon as possible.
“Sergei Lavrov noted the urgent need, especially amid mounting protests in the southeast of Ukraine, for a deep and transparent constitutional reform with full-fledged participation of all political forces and regions."
“He stressed the importance of real dialogue on creating a federative system in Ukraine and formalizing its non-bloc status,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The ministry added that Lavrov and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had agreed to continue joint efforts to discuss “optimal forms of international assistance in promoting a truly national dialogue in Ukraine so that Ukrainians could determine the future of their country”.
Russia unilaterally annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula after taking control of the region on February 26-27 when gunmen, believed to be Russian special forces, seized the regional parliament and Simferopol's airport.
In a controversial referendum held on March 16, Crimea voted to secede from Kiev in favor of unification with Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill that officially incorporated Crimea into the Russian Federation on March 21.
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