Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned of further bloodshed in Ukraine amid fresh military operations conducted by the Ukrainian army in eastern regions of the country.
Lavrov voiced the warning in a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday, one day after the government in Kiev refused to extend its proposed ten-day ceasefire in the restive region and resumed the active phase of its military actions against pro-Russia protesters there.
“Lavrov stressed that the decision by [Ukrainian] President Petro Poroshenko not to extend the ceasefire… unleashes a new round of bloodshed, with unpredictable consequences for the Ukrainian state,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Russian top diplomat also urged Ukraine to halt its crackdown on the pro-Russians and called on Washington to persuade the Kiev authorities to change their current “destructive” course.
In a different telephone conversation, Lavrov exchanged views with his Italian counterpart Federica Mogherini on Tuesday over possible measures to ensure a durable ceasefire in Ukraine’s troubled areas.
The Russian official is reportedly expected to meet with the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Ukraine in Berlin on Wednesday to discuss ways to deescalate the ongoing tensions in the former Soviet state.
Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking parts in the east have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations against the protesters in mid-April.
According to recent figures, released by Ivan Simonovic, the UN assistant secretary general for human rights, 423 people were killed in the east Ukraine clashes between April 15 and June 20.