Russia 'Ready for Talks with US, EU, Ukraine'Diplomacy | April 8, 2014, Tuesday // 15:10| views
Russia's announcement comes hours after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) talked with US counterpart John Kerry (L) over the phone to discuss renewed tensions in Ukraine's east. Photo by EPA/BGNES
Russia is ready to begin talks over Ukraine with the West and Kiev, its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.
Moscow could "consider a multilateral format in which Europeans, the US, Russia and the Ukrainian side are represented," Lavrov was quoted by ITAR-TASS agency as saying.
He also hinted the idea had been put forward in his conversation with US State Secretary John Kerry.
"We have not discussed any particular date with John Kerry, because according to our agreement, you must first decide on the format," Lavrov said, referring to the phone conversation the two held late on Monday.
Russia's Foreign Minister also insisted that "the south and east of Ukraine must be represented in the international talks".
His agreement on Russia-US-EU-Ukraine negotiations comes after Ukraine also expressed willingness to join talks with Moscow "in any format" if they are decided upon.
Russia has long insisted that Kiev should not be included in negotiations over Ukraine's standoff with Russia, saying it does not recognize the government.
Last days saw renewed tensions in Ukraine's east, where activists proclaimed Donetsk and Kharkiv to be "People's Republics" and announced referendums will be held on their status within Ukraine.
Kiev launched early on Tuesday "anti-terrorist" operations against pro-Russian demonstrators, which the government describes as "separatists" and "responsible for illegal activities".