US chides Russia on 'sharp increase' in Ukraine attacks
US Secretary of State John Kerry called his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Thursday to express "grave concern" about increased separatist attacks in Ukraine, a senior State Department official said.
Washington has long accused Russia of fomenting unrest in a breakaway region of eastern Ukraine and has urged Moscow to help implement the terms of a shaky ceasefire deal while pushing for a political solution to the conflict.
"The secretary spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov by phone earlier this morning," the State Department official told reporters.
"The secretary expressed grave concern about the sharp increase in separatist attacks in eastern Ukraine, and urged an immediate ceasefire and full implementation of Minsk obligations."
Earlier, the Ukrainian government had complained that two of its soldiers had died in what it branded the heaviest clashes with pro-Russian separatists since the Minsk II ceasefire deal was signed in February.
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov said militants had shelled government positions across the disputed region.
"In essence, shelling this intense corresponds to active hostilities," he declared in a statement that echoed similar remarks by other military officials since the weekend.
© 2015 AFP