Russia accused the US of hindering the OSCE’s work in Ukraine, as fighting raged around the crash site of flight MH17 and the Netherlands scrapped plans for an armed international mission to secure the area.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a phone conversation, asked US Secretary of State John Kerry “to order his subordinates to stop hindering the OSCE from doing its current work”, the foreign ministry in Moscow said in a statement on Sunday.
Kerry, during the conversation, urged Russia to “begin to contribute to de escalating the conflict”, a senior US State Department official said.
Observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have been unable to access the site where the Malaysia Airlines plane crashed less than two weeks ago, killing 298 people, because of heavy shelling in the area.
Moscow has accused the US of supporting Kiev against the separatist rebels in the east of the former Soviet Republic, and of “sharing the responsibility of spilt blood” in the conflict.
The US and Europe, meanwhile, accuse Moscow of supporting the insurgents, and claim a Russian-made missile was used to shoot down flight MH17.
“Secretary Kerry urged Foreign Minister Lavrov to stop the flow of heavy weapons and rocket and artillery fire from Russia into Ukraine,” said the State Department official.
“He did not accept Foreign Minister Lavrov’s denial that heavy weapons from Russia were contributing to the conflict.”
The two ministers agreed that a ceasefire in east Ukraine was needed, and that negotiations should start under the terms of an agreement signed in April, the Russian ministry said.
The Netherlands, meanwhile, has scrapped plans to send an international armed mission to secure the crash site amid fears of being dragged into the conflict.
Dutch authorities leading the probe into the downing of the jetliner had along with Australia planned to send armed officers, but Prime Minister Mark Rutte said this was no longer viable.