Russia Tells US To End Ukraine Military Action
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has told US Secretary of State John Kerry the Ukrainian government must stop its military operation in the south east of the country.
A Russian government statement said that Mr Lavrov had made his demand during a telephone call with the US politician.
Mr Lavrov “underscored the need for an immediate halt by Kiev of the punitive operation in the southeastern regions and for the swiftest possible launch of a nationwide dialogue, including direct talks with representatives of the southeast, in the interests of a peaceful solution,” the foreign ministry said.
It came as skirmishes between pro-Russian militiamen and Ukrainian forces for control of Donetsk’s international airport continued on Wednesday.
As many as 50 insurgents are thought to have been killed in Donetsk on Tuesday during an operation to retake the airport.
Witnesses described seeing piles of bodies so high that it was impossible to count the number of dead.
Fighting has also been reported in Mariupol, Biryukovo, and Slovyansk, with further rebel losses claimed.
Pro-Russian gunmen were seen nearby Donetsk airport on Wednesday amid signs the rebels were attempting to hold on to the positions they had earlier seized.
Amateur video showed armed militia in a convoy carrying an anti-aircraft gun through the outskirts of Donetsk.
Many were understood to be from a unit calling itself the Vostok – or East – Battalion, which Donetsk People’s Republic representatives have said includes fighters from Russia’s North Caucasus.
Elsewhere, Ukraine’s volunteer National Guard said separatist gunmen had sprung a surprise raid on their barracks in the Luhansk region, which had led to them suffering casualties.
Analysts think Kiev has ratcheted up its offensive following Petro Poroshenko’s victory by a 40-point margin in Sunday’s presidential elections.
Mr Poroshenko promised talks would soon take place with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian foreign ministry confirmed that four OSCE monitors had been abducted by pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk region.
On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on the OSCE (the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) to provide detailed information on the battle between rebels and Ukrainian forces.
Seven military observers from the OSCE were previously released on May 3 having been held by separatists since April 25.