Lavrov presses Kerry to help stop Ukraine assault

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday asked his US counterpart John Kerry to press Ukraine to halt its military operation in the east of the ex-Soviet country, his ministry said.

"The minister called on the United States to use all of its influence to force the Kiev regime, which it looks out after and which has declared a war against its own people, to immediately halt military operations in the southeast, pull back its troops and free protesters," the foreign ministry said.

And Lavrov, who also spoke with his Swiss counterpart and current OSCE chairman Didier Burkhalter, pushed for a greater OSCE role in mediating the crisis in Ukraine, the ministry said.

"Sergei Lavrov strongly called for the use of the OSCE potential to influence Kiev with a view to cancelling a military operation against the population of Ukraine's southeastern regions," the ministry said in another statement.

"Lavrov stressed that a reprisal operation in the southeast of Ukraine is pushing the country towards a fratricidal conflict," the ministry said after the top diplomat's talks with Kerry.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier on Saturday that Russia could not resolve the crisis alone and noted that it no longer had influence over rebels in the restive east.