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Russia seeks US backing for 'humanitarian mission' to Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Saturday (Aug 9) for Washington to back Moscow's initiative for a "humanitarian mission" to east Ukraine, his ministry said.

MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Saturday (Aug 9) for Washington to back Moscow's initiative for a "humanitarian mission" to east Ukraine, his ministry said.

Lavrov had telephoned his US counterpart John Kerry "to underline the need for urgent measures to avert the imminent humanitarian crisis" in east Ukraine, according to a statement issued by the Russian foreign ministry.

He "called on (the US) to back the Russian initiative to deploy a humanitarian mission to the south-east (of Ukraine) in coordination with all competent international structures," it said.

Kerry replied that "such work was already being carried out with the Ukrainian authorities," according to the Russian statement.

But Washington has already rejected the Russian initiative and on Friday warned Moscow against using the humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine as a pretext for an invasion. US Ambassador Samantha Power told the United Nations (UN) Security Council that international aid agencies were on the ground and helping civilians trapped by the fighting between pro-Moscow rebels and Ukrainian forces.

"Any further unilateral intervention by Russia in Ukrainian territory, including one under the guise of providing humanitarian aid, would be completely unacceptable and deeply alarming and would be viewed as an invasion of Ukraine," Washington's envoy said.

The West has accused Russia of abetting the insurgency in east Ukraine by supplying it with weapons, an allegation that Moscow firmly denies.