MOSCOW: Russia called Friday on Kiev to halt all military action in eastern Ukraine after the Ukrainian army launched an assault on pro-Russian separatists who have seized control of the flashpoint town of Slavyansk.
"Russia calls for an immediate stop to all military action and violence, for the retreat of troops and the full implementation of the Geneva accord by Ukraine," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"This will allow a start to de-escalation," the ministry said.
It said Russia supports the clear implementation of the Geneva accord which it signed along with Ukraine and Western powers last week, and which calls for all illegal armed groups to disarm and all occupied buildings in Ukraine to be evacuated.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier Friday following a phone call with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier that he supported "the important role of the OSCE in the dialogue between the authorities in Kiev" and the rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Seven members of an OSCE observer mission were seized by rebels on Friday and are being held by rebels in Slavyansk.
Kiev announced that its forces were setting up a "blockade" of rebels in the town.