Russia wants rebels on negotiation table, Ukraine says no
Updated: 2014-05-07 11:45
Speaking to a press meeting of a Council of Europe conference in Vienna, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the new round of international negotiations on de-escalating tensions in Ukraine should include the rebels on the negotiation table.
Lavrov believed that the new round of talks in Geneva would "go round in circles" if no pro-Russia representatives take part in the diplomatic process.
Russia said it opposes the using of armed forces against civilians in eastern Ukraine, noting the military action, which is taking by Kiev, runs counter to the fundamental norms of the Council of Europe and must be stopped.
Moscow has been calling for full compliance of the Geneva statement, adopted after the April 17 meeting on Ukraine that involved Russia, the United States, the European Union and Ukraine, aiming to ease tension in Ukraine.
However, it seems that the Geneva statement falls short to be implemented due to escalating conflicts between Ukrainian military and pro-Russia armed groups.
According to earlier reports, casualties of both sides have been rising in the clashes outside the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk.
Ukraine's security services said 30 "heavily armed" militants had been killed in recent days as part of the "anti-terrorist" operation in the volatile region.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said Ukraine is a few steps away from a war.
Andrii Deshchytsia, Ukraine's acting foreign minister, told reporters shortly after the Russian minister's speech that there was no need to bring the rebels to the negotiation, because "as the Ukraine government, we do represent all the regions of Ukraine."
He said his country is ready for the new round of Geneva talks to ease the tension if Moscow supports Ukraine's presidential elections by eliminating its "threat" to Ukraine.
"If Russia is ready to commit itself to support these elections and to eliminate this threat and eliminate its support for the extremist elements in Ukraine, we are ready to have such a round of meetings," he told reporters during the Council of Europe meeting in Vienna dominated by the Ukraine crisis.
He said Ukraine is heading to it's presidential election on May 25, the short-term priority of his country.
However, Lavrov questioned the legitimacy of the election, saying it would be "unusual" to hold a presidential election in Ukraine while the government was deploying the army against "some of its people", while reaffirmed Russia's stand over the voting, saying promised constitutional reform should be made public before any president is elected.
Lavrov met with Deshchytsia briefly on the sidelines of the conference in Vienna.
The Russian foreign minister also met with his German counterpart, exchanging the view of the crisis in Ukraine.
The Council of Europe's decision-making body, the Committee of Ministers, gathered in Vienna, discussing the Ukraine crisis to defuse the tension in the region.