Moscow: Russia promised on Tuesday to assist efforts by Ukraine`s president-elect if he moves to negotiate a peaceful end to the unrest in eastern Ukraine, but strongly warned him against trying to score a quick military victory against the rebels.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged an end to fighting in eastern Ukraine, where government forces fought insurgents Monday over Ukraine`s second-largest airport in Donetsk, using jets and helicopter gunships. Dozens were reported killed.
Petro Poroshenko, who won Ukraine`s presidential vote Sunday, pledged to negotiate with the east but also vowed to uproot the pro-Russia separatists.
Lavrov warned Poroshenko against trying to win a quick military victory before his inauguration, saying that it would be "unlikely to create favourable conditions for a hospitable welcome in the Donetsk region."
He promised that Russia will support Poroshenko`s efforts to launch a dialogue with the insurgents.
"We expect him to act in the interests of the entire Ukrainian people, and if he does so, we will be his serious and reliable partner," Lavrov said at a briefing.
The US and the European Union have slapped travel bans and asset freezes on members of President Vladimir Putin`s inner circle in response to Moscow`s annexation of Crimea and promised more sanctions if Moscow tried to grab more land from Ukraine.
Lavrov said Moscow had no intention of doing that, lashing out at the West for what he called a "ridiculous" search for a pretext to punish Russia.