Russia Calls on U.S. to Push Ukraine Into Halting Military Campaign

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Says U.S. Needed to Moderate ‘Party of War’ in Kiev.

Russia called on the U.S. to push Kiev into giving up its military campaign against pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine and negotiating a political deal, as recent Ukrainian gains on the battlefield were reversed by what Western officials called an influx of Russian men and materiel.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Washington should pressure Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to reach a deal during his planned visit to the U.S. later this month.

“It is imperative to moderate the ‘party of war’ in Kiev, and the only one who can really do that is the U.S.,” Mr. Lavrov said at a briefing Tuesday, according to the Interfax news agency. “It is very important the U.S. uses its influence and capabilities to give the signals necessary to transition to the political process from attempts to solve the situation by force.”

For months, Ukrainian forces had been gaining ground in Donetsk and Luhansk, the two rebellious regions along the Russian border. But late last month the rebels emerged with fresh reinforcements and weaponry that Western and Ukrainian officials said came directly from Russia. That has changed the battlefield dramatically, sending Ukrainian forces into retreat.

At the same time, Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin and Mr. Lavrov have stepped up demands that Ukraine negotiate a political truce with the rebel leaders, putting pressure on an increasingly weak-looking Kiev government.

Russia has denied accusations that its troops entered Ukraine to prop up the rebels, despite the recent capture of Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory and an assessment by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that Russia has “well over” 1,000 troops operating in Ukraine. Separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko has said Russian soldiers have been fighting in the rebel ranks while on vacation. (Follow the latest updates on the crisis in Ukraine.)

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