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Russia concerned Ukraine military operation has ‘intensified’

Ukraine headquaters

Ukraine headquatersJeddah: Moscow is concerned that Ukraine is stepping up its military operation against pro-Russian rebels despite having called a unilateral ceasefire, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today.

“The fact that the so-called counter-terrorist military operation has intensified in parallel with the advancement of a peace plan is a cause for much alarm and concern,” Lavrov said on a visit to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

“Russian territory has already been shot at. There is damage on Russia’s territory; there are wounded, as a minimum. We don’t yet know what will be the fate of those who have been wounded as a result,” he said.

Lavrov, quoted by RIA Novosti news agency, also said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s peace plan announced on Friday did not go far enough.

“It lacks the key element — negotiations, and this is a radical departure from the April 17 Geneva declaration, which our Western partners and Ukrainian authorities currently support.”

Russia and Ukraine agreed to “de-escalate” tensions at EU- and US-brokered talks in the Swiss city on April 17, but the terms of the deal were broken by both sides within days.

Today, Lavrov said the Kiev government’s Western backers had to bear responsibility for what was going on inside Ukraine.

“This responsibility should probably be implemented in the form of some concrete steps which would bring the situation back to the framework of the April 17 Geneva declaration and would allow to immediately start full-fledged dialogue over constitution reform and the settlement of the crisis with the involvement of all of Ukraine’s regions.”

The Russian foreign minister made the remarks after meeting his Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud al-Faisal, for talks in which the war in Syria would top the agenda, according to a Saudi official.

Russia backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government in the more than three-year conflict, while Saudi Arabia supports the rebels trying to oust him.

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