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Lavrov: Ukraine crisis reminds of Belgrade bombing in 1999

Published time: July 07, 2014 19:32
Kosovo's capital Pristina March 29, 1999.(Reuters) Stanitsa Luganskaya July 2, 2014.(AFP Photo / Stanislav Krasilnikov)

Kosovo's capital Pristina March 29, 1999.(Reuters) Stanitsa Luganskaya July 2, 2014.(AFP Photo / Stanislav Krasilnikov)

Washington should feel responsibility for the crisis in Ukraine, said Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointing out that the current events in the country recall NATO bombings of Yugoslavia in 1999.

"We have reason to believe that the leading European countries understand their responsibility for what is happening in Ukraine. We want the US to join [the EU in] understanding this responsibility," said Lavrov during a joint media conference with Bulgaria's Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski in Sofia on Monday.

Lavrov, who is in Bulgaria for a two-day visit, urged international partners to put aside their ambitions and think about the rescue of civilian lives in the south-east of Ukraine.

Now we need to think about saving lives,” said Russia’s minister stressing that the ceasefire in south-eastern Ukraine must not be delayed under any circumstances as that would lead to new casualties.

"It is in our common interests to stop the bloodshed as soon as possible. There can be no reservations or pretexts for delaying an immediate ceasefire which more and more affects peaceful people and civilian persons…"

Lavrov believes the truce will contribute to the start of peace negotiations, which should respect the rights of all regions of the country and set the future political roadmap for the solution of the crisis.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a news conference after his meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart Kristian Vigenin (not seen) in Sofia July 7, 2014.(Reuters / Stoyan Nenov )

The agreement reached in Berlin last Wednesday between Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine to establish a Contact group with the goal of reaching an unconditional and mutually agreed ceasefire was not put into force, the FM explained.

The meeting of the Contact Group on Sunday was incomplete given the absence of representatives of the militia from the south-east, Lavrov elaborated after talks with his Bulgarian colleague Kristian Vigenin in Sofia on Monday.

According to the minister the militia refused to leave the eastern city of Donetsk during the military crackdown on the region, while Kiev rejected their invitation to come to the shelled Donetsk and hold talks there.

Kosovo April 07, 1999.(Reuters / Goran Tomasevic) Slaviansk on June 24, 2014.(AFP Photo / John Macdougall)

During the media conference in Sofia, the minister noted the “current events in Ukraine remind us of Belgrade in 1999," when NATO began its 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia without UN authorization against a sovereign nation that did not pose a threat to members of the alliance.

2,000 civilians died during the devastating airstrikes as NATO bypassed UN approval under a humanitarian pretext to ‘prevent instability spreading’ in the framework of the Kosovo war. The aggression caused a much larger catastrophe than it averted as it destroyed at least 40,000 homes.

Earlier on Monday in an interview with Bulgaria's Focus News Agency, Lavrov pointed out that “the principles of a state's sovereignty and the non-interference into internal affairs [in Ukraine] have priority significance."

“There are no opposing military-political alliances in Europe today," he elaborated. "The creation of any alliances is counter-productive. The events in Ukraine and around it prove this," Lavrov said.