MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia demanded on Thursday that the Ukrainian government stop its military operation against pro-Russian separatists and urged the United States and European Union to press Kiev to avert a "catastrophe" in the former Soviet republic.
"We once again demand that the Kiev authorities stop the fratricidal war and start a real national dialogue with all political forces and representatives of the country's regions," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Ukrainian government and President-elect Petro Poroshenko have defied Moscow's calls for an end to the operation against the rebels in eastern Ukraine, where casualties on both sides have been heavy this week.
Russia voiced deep concern about the "escalation" and said proposals stemming from an agreement reached by the European Union, Russia, Ukraine and the United States in Geneva in April remained a viable path out of the crisis.
"We repeat again: The international community expects from Kiev an immediate end to the military action in the east of the country and the withdrawal of forces. It is impossible to achieve peace without this," the Foreign Ministry said.
"We again call on our Western partners to use all their influence on Kiev to stop Ukraine's slide into national catastrophe."
(Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage)