"The meeting remains on the agenda. We are extremely hopeful that the efforts being used now, and including those by the Russian administration, will take effect and any use of force against the protesters [in eastern Ukraine] will cease,” Lavrov said after a meeting in Hanoi with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.
Thursday's negotiations, expected to be attended by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia, are part of the diplomatic effort to resolve the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, where pro-federalization protests have recently intensified in the country’s eastern regions.
Lavrov earlier rejected allegations levied by Kiev that Russia could cancel the meeting. He also called groundless the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s claims that the domestic political situation in Ukraine will not be discussed at the meeting, adding that de-escalation, disarmament of illegal groups, constitutional reform and elections will all be on the agenda.
Ukraine’s acting President Oleksander Turchynov announced Tuesday the start of a military operation, involving armed forces, against pro-federalization protesters in eastern Ukraine. Russia strongly condemned the move, calling it an extremely dangerous development.
Eastern Ukraine has been swept by rallies beginning last month. Federalization supporters in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Gorlovka, Slaviansk and Kramatorsk refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the current Ukrainian government and are urging interim authorities to hold referendums similar to the one held in Crimea last month, which led to the republic’s reunification with Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the United Nations and the international community Tuesday to condemn Kiev’s anti-constitutional actions in eastern Ukraine.