Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed in a phone conversation on Sunday on the importance of ensuring a swift ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, a Foreign Ministry statement in Moscow said.
But the State Department said Kerry did not accept Lavrov’s denial that heavy weapons from Russia were contributing to the conflict and urged him “to stop the flow of heavy weapons and rocket and artillery fire from Russia into Ukraine, and to begin to contribute to deescalating the conflict.”
“During a phone call this afternoon, Secretary Kerry urged Foreign Minister Lavrov to stop the flow of heavy weapons and rocket and artillery fire from Russia into Ukraine, and to begin to contribute to deescalating the conflict,” the State Department said in a readout of the call. “He did not accept Foreign Minister Lavrov’s denial that heavy weapons from Russia were contributing to the conflict.”
Washington and the West accuse Moscow of supporting rebels fighting Ukrainian troops in the east of the former Soviet republic with training, military-grade weapons, and shelling by Russian troops on Ukrainian positions across the border.
On July 17, Russian-backed rebels shot downMalaysia Flight MH17, killing all 298 people on board. A senior State Department official stressed an additional point of the phone call in a subsequent email, saying Kerry “underlined our support for a mutual cease fire verified by the OSCE and reaffirmed our strong support for the international investigation to show the facts of MH17.”
Moscow denies involvement in east Ukraine. The Russian statement described the crisis is an “internal conflict.”
(Reuters reporting by Gabriela Baczynska in Moscow; Editing by Lidia Kelly)
This post has been updated.
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