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MOSCOW, March 20. /ITAR-TASS/. At a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday, March 20, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov voiced serious concern about numerous violations of the rights of ethnic Russians in eastern and south-eastern regions of Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry said.
He also stressed the need for the United Nations to help normalize the situation in Ukraine in the interests of long-term stability.
At his meeting with President Vladimir Putin earlier in the day, Ban voiced concern about the latest events in Ukraine and Russia.
Ban noted Russia was one of the world leaders and major international actors. He thanked Putin for the opportunity to meet with him personally even though they had talked with each other by phone several times lately.
Ban Ki-moon will try to launch a direct dialogue between Russia and Ukraine during his visits to Moscow and Kiev on March 20-21, his spokesperson Farhan Haq said ahead of the trip.
He said the main task was to start a direct dialogue between Moscow and Kiev in order to agree concrete measures that will pave the way to diplomatic settlement, he said.
Ban Ki-moon believes that the world is at a crossroads and although the situation was complex over the past several days, the road to a peaceful solution is still open.
His first stop will be Moscow, where the U.N. Secretary-General will meet on Thursday, March 20, with President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other senior officials.
On Friday, March 21, Ban will travel to Kiev, where he will hold talks with Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other officials.
While in the Ukrainian capital, he will also meet with members of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission and representatives of civil society, the spokesperson said.
Months of political unrest in Ukraine led to the removal by parliament of President Viktor Yanukovych in February, followed by increased tensions in the country’s autonomous region of Crimea, where a secession referendum was held on Sunday, March 16.
Throughout the crisis, the Secretary-General and senior UN officials have consistently called for a solution that is guided by the principles of the UN Charter and that respects Ukraine’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, the UN said.