Moscow says it would be counterproductive to return to talks on settling the conflict in east Ukraine in a "Geneva format,” which would include Russia, Ukraine, the European Union and the United States.
An agreement reached in this format in Geneva April 17, 2014, has been “grossly violated” by Ukraine, a Russian Foreign Ministry commentary published Thursday says.
“Instead of de-escalating [the conflict], Kyiv unleashed fighting in the south-east of the country with the use of heavy equipment (weaponry), which led to thousands of casualties and widespread destruction,” the ministry says.
“The current situation puts in question the appropriateness of a return to a format that has not produced the expected results,” the ministry added.
The Geneva agreement called on “all sides [of the conflict in east Ukraine] to refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions.” It also called for the disbanding of “illegal armed groups.”
The United Nations says the death toll of the ongoing conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia separatists now exceeds 4,000.
Kyiv, West blame Russia
Kyiv and the West have accused Russia of instigating and fomenting the fighting as part of efforts to destabilize Ukraine for choosing a pro-Europe course in favor of continued subservience to Moscow.
Russia denies the charge. It also dismisses Western accusations that it has been arming rebels, and sending troops and equipment into east Ukraine to further the separatist uprising.
In an apparent effort to boost their status and further challenge authorities in Kyiv, rebels in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions on Sunday conducted local elections in defiance of Ukrainian law. Results of the polls in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics,” declared by Kyiv and the West as invalid, have been recognized only by Russia.
Following talks in Geneva in April, attempts to settle the conflict have been undertaken in Minsk, Belarus, where Ukraine, Russia and the rebels signed a cease-fire agreement September 5. The truce has since been violated almost daily.