Lavrov and Kerry discuss situation in Ukraine in context of Poroshenko peace plan

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Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry have discussed the situation in Ukraine in the context of a peace plan, unveiled by Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko on June 20. In a telephone conversation with Kerry on Sunday, Lavrov said Russian President Vladimir Putin had given an assessment to the peace plan. “Russia always supported ceasefire. This is only the first step. The key task is to start a dialogue without ultimatums. It is necessary to take into account the interests of those who really control the situation in Ukraine’s southeast,” the Russian Foreign Ministry says.

Lavrov said Kiev, finally, must take a constructive position on the price for Russian gas.

Lavrov and Kerry also discussed the situation in Iraq that had aggravated due to the attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant terrorist group.

They confirmed the commitment to stepping up efforts aimed at countering growing terrorism.

Moscow concerned Kiev continues punitive operation in east Ukraine despite Poroshenko’s peacefull plan – Lavrov

Moscow is disturbed that Ukraine’s military operation in the east has intensified over the past few days. This at a time when the country’s new leader, Petr Poroshenko, has just unveiled his peace initiative, Russia’s Foreign Minister said on Saturday. “We are alarmed and concerned that, simultaneously with the proposal of this plan, the activity of the so-called anti-terrorist military operation is increasing,” Lavrov told journalists in reply to a question from Interfax during his visit to Saudi Arabia.

“I think everyone will be looking now at the Western sponsors of the Kiev authorities, which have taken on responsibility for the coup and the ensuing preparations for presidential elections. And perhaps this responsibility should now be transformed into some practical steps that would restore the situation on track with the Geneva statement of April 17 and immediately help start an equitable dialogue on constitutional reform and a settlement in general involving all regions,” he said.

The absence of a clause on negotiations in Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko’s peace plan for eastern Ukraine goes against the Geneva statement adopted in April, Sergei Lavrov said.

“The absence of a negotiations clause is a radical departure from the Geneva statement,” Sergei Lavrov told journalists in reply to a question from Interfax during his visit to Saudi Arabia.

“Most of the plan’s clauses look like an ultimatum: here you are, having several days, a week. All those who disagree with the incumbent authorities and the way they have come to power, please lay down your arms or leave Ukraine altogther, and then we might possibly look at whether you’ve committed any serious crimes and then you might possibly be pardoned,” Lavrov said.

“The peace plan contains a number of ultimatum-like demands, which is totaly different from what Petr Poroshenko said at a meeting in Normandy, from what he said in telephone contacts with Vladimir Putin, and from how this was interpreted in our president’s conversations with his Western counterparts,” he said.

Moscow expects explanations from Kiev over gun-fire on Russian territory

The press service of the Russian Southern Customs Directorate has confirmed reports that a Russian customs officer was injured when a Russian customs checkpoint was fired upon from Ukraine.

Russia expresses strong protests and expects explanations and apologies from Kiev with regard to gun-fire upon Russian territory and the injury of a Russian customs officer, the Kremlin press office said.

A local law enforcement source told Interfax that a customs officer at a checkpoint in the Rostov region had received an injury when the post was fired upon from Ukrainian territory.

Russia expresses strong protest about the shooting on the Russian border Novoshakhtinsk checkpoint by Ukrainian special forces, the Russian Foreign Ministry posted a statement on its website. The fire led to destruction and seriously injured a customs officer, the Foreign Ministry said.

“Russia expresses strong protest over this aggressive action. We demand Kiev investigate immediately and urgently all circumstances of this crime that violates basic international law standards and principles,” the document said. “It concerns direct provocations preventing the implementation of Geneva agreements on the immediate de-escalation of the domestic crisis in Ukraine,” the statement said. “How could this relate to the ceasefire declared today by the Kiev”.

Russia expects explanations and apologies from Kiev for the fire upon Russian territory and injury of a customs officer, the Kremlin press office said.

The statement by Ukrain’s President Petr Poroshenko on a temporary ceasefire “was made, accidently or deliberately, amid the shooting upon Russian territory near the Dolzhansky checkpoint, which led to the destruction of the building and, most importantly, to the injury of a Russian customs officer,” the Kremlin said.

“In such a situation Russia should analyze closely the text of the relevant decree by the Ukrainian president and the procedure for implementing it,” the Kremlin said. “Unfortunately, initial analysis shows that this is not an invitation for truce and talks, but an ultimatum to the militia of southeastern Ukraine to lay down arms,” the press office said. “It lacks the main element, the proposal to start negotiations,” the Kremlin said.

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