MOSCOW, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Russia has said it is extremely important to implement as soon as possible a roadmap proposed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to solve the Ukraine crisis.
"The implementation of ...the 'roadmap' would create conditions for the start of a broad national dialogue aimed at reconciliation and an all-encompassing constitutional reform designed to prevent the country from further sliding toward catastrophe," the foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
The OSCE plan calls on all sides to refrain from violence and urges amnesty for those involved in unrests. It envisions a quick launch of high-level round tables across the country bringing together national lawmakers and representatives of the central government and the regions.
The Russian foreign ministry said Kiev had to immediately stop "reprisal raids" in the east, pull back troops from besieged cities and towns, free all political prisoners and stop "intimidating civilians."
The statement said Russia expects leaders of the self-defense forces in Ukraine's east to "react appropriately if Kiev takes these steps."
Moscow said it attaches special importance to the investigation of violent activities in the east and south as proposed by the OSCE roadmap, particularly the clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters in Ukraine's southern city of Odessa on May 2 that claimed at least 43 lives.
"We call on the OSCE to secure agreement from Kiev authorities to fully cooperate on these issues," the statement said.
Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told EU envoy to Russia Vygaudas Usackas on Tuesday that Kiev's unwillingness to hold dialogues with its eastern and southern regions will seriously hinder the alleviation of the intense situation and the mutual understanding among its citizens.
"Moscow hopes ... the EU and United States will use their influence on the current leadership in Kiev so that issues of state structure and respect for the rights of regions are discussed soon - in any case before the election scheduled for May 25," a statement of the foreign ministry on its website quoted Karasin as saying.
It added that new sanctions of the European Union (EU) will hinder efforts to defuse the crisis in Ukraine.
The EU on Monday added 13 persons to the list of those subject to targeted sanctions for alleged actions "undermining Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence," bringing the total number of such people to 61. It also imposed asset freezes on two Crimean companies.
Local residents in Donetsk and Lugansk, two regions in eastern Ukraine,went to the polls Sunday in separate referendums over the regions' future status, in which their organizers said overwhelming majorities of the voters favored their region's independence from Kiev.
The Ukrainian government, the United States and the EU dismissed the referendums as illegal, while Russia said it respected the willingness of the people in the two regions and the results of the referendums should be realized through dialogues between Kiev and representatives of the two regions.
The referendums were held after Crimea joined Russia on March 18 following an independence referendum that was not recognized by Ukraine and the West.
In Ukraine's restive east, at least six Ukrainian soldiers were ambushed and killed Tuesday afternoon outside the town of Kramatorsk, the defense ministry said.
The violence flared as German Foreign Ministry Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in Ukraine to mediate talks between Kiev and anti-government rebels.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy also met Ukrainian Prime Minister Arsey Yatsenyuk in Kiev Tuesday to discuss ways to stabilize the situation in the country.
Violence has raged for weeks in eastern Ukraine as government troops carry out "anti-terrorist" operations against armed rebels who seized cities and towns in the chaos that followed the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych in February, who refused to sign an agreement with the EU.
Kiev on Tuesday passed the legislation needed to approve the country's visa facilitation agreement with the EU. Ukraine hopes to sign the core chapters of the Association Agreement with the EU after the presidential election, which includes a roadmap for abolishing the visa regime for Ukrainians.
MOSCOW/BEIJING, May 13 (Xinhua) -- Russia said Monday it respects the choice of people in Donetsk and Lugansk regions in Ukraine, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence on Sunday, amid continuous rejection and severe criticism from Kiev and Western countries.
"We have taken note of high voter turnout despite attempts to derail the voting and we condemn the force used, including military hardware, against civilians, which lead to fatalities," the Kremlin press service said in a statement. Full story
STRASBOURG, May 13 (Xinhua) -- An appeal to all sides in Ukraine to put an immediate end to violence and intimidation was made Tuesday by Anne Brasseur, president of PACE, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (CoE).
Speaking on behalf of the Assembly's Presidential Committee following a meeting in Luxembourg, Brasseur said: "Violence cannot and will not bring a solution - it must immediately stop and all sides must ensure that human rights are effectively respected on the whole territory of Ukraine." Full story
BERLIN, May 13 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood by Germany's foreign policy in the wake of the Ukraine crisis and stressed the importance of a peaceful settlement of the conflict, in an interview published on Tuesday.
"The crisis cannot be solved by military means," Merkel told German newspaper Westfalenpost, noting that Germany had been pursuing a "triad policy" in dealing with the conflict in Ukraine. Full story