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Moscow expects progress in resolving Ukraine crisis: Lavrov

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-01-21 22:01

MOSCOW - Russia hopes the upcoming contacts aimed at resolving the Ukraine crisis will bring about positive results, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.

"We hope the contacts to be held in the foreseeable future at various levels will help to move ahead toward the settlement of the crisis in Ukraine," he told a press conference.

Lavrov proposed maintaining direct contacts between Kiev and the two self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics.

"All other formats involving so-called external players, including the Normandy Format and activities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, should be aimed at promoting this sustainable direct dialogue on all issues," he noted.

Lavrov also demanded that shelling of populated areas in Ukraine's restive southeastern regions be ceased immediately.

"It is necessary to stop trying to win back one populated area or another and, most importantly, immediately stop the shelling of populated areas, including Donetsk and other major cities in the region from the air and with heavy weapons," Lavrov said.

Moscow has secured consent of the pro-independence insurgents to withdraw heavy weapons from the contact line as demanded by Kiev, he said, adding that the ball is now in Kiev's court.

Meanwhile, Lavrov dismissed allegations that Russia has sent troops and weapons to southeastern Ukraine, saying nobody can present the proof of such presence.

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