Russia to Kiev: Stop this fraternal war
Russia has called on Ukraine to immediately stop what it calls a fraternal war in the country, while urging the West to steer Kiev away from a “national disaster.”
Moscow’s call comes on Thursday, following the latest escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine, when 14 Ukrainian soldiers were killed as pro-Russia protesters shot down a Ukrainian helicopter with a man-portable anti-aircraft system.
"We once again call on our Western partners to use all their influence on Kiev to stop Ukraine from descending into a national disaster," Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement, adding, "The international community ... [expects] ... Kiev [to cease] ... military activities in the east of the country... . Without that, achieving peace in Ukraine is impossible."
Russia also accused the Ukrainian authorities of bombarding cities and civilian targets using aircraft and artillery in a military operation that "brings pain and suffering to peaceful citizens."
According to Kiev, the pro-Russian protesters shot down the helicopter near the restive city of Slavyansk earlier on Thursday.
Ukrainian officials say General Serhiy Kulchytsky, head of combat and special training for Ukraine's National Guard, was amongst the casualties of the attack.
Pro-Russia protesters have confirmed they shot down the gunship.
The people’s mayor of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, has vowed to return the troops bodies to their families.
The acting government in Kiev has been staging military operations in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine since mid-April in a bid to root out the pro-Moscow protests there.