Sergei Lavrov
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said eastern Ukraine conflict far from overReuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov predicted the conflict in eastern Ukraine was far from being resolved, despite signs that the fighting on the ground had eased and the resumption of gas deliveries from Russia to Ukraine.

Kiev has announced it had suspended combat operations against the pro-Russian rebels that control major towns and cities in eastern Ukraine.

The forthcoming truce, referred to as the 'Day of Silence' in Ukraine, would be accompanied by political negotiations, Lavrov said.

However, the dispute was unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, he added.

"As of yet, it is fully obvious that we are far from that goal," Lavrov told RIA news agency.

Both government forces and pro-Russian rebels have periodically broken a ceasefire that was agreed in September, causing the overall death toll to soar to more than 4,300 people.

"In the coming days, a meeting of the contact group is planned, in which will be discussed a plan prepared by military specialists of practical measures...with the aim of a final ceasefire," Lavrov said, as quoted by RIA.

Representatives from the rebels and the government are expected to meet in Minsk in the coming days, the scene of the September truce that failed to prevent the deaths of more than 1,000 people on the ground.

Russia has insisted that the rebel-held zones of Donetsk and Luhansk should receive special status from central government.

Meanwhile, Russia has resumed gas deliveries to Ukraine following months of negotiations over the price Kiev pays for natural gas.

Russian gas deliveries were cut off completely in June, but have now resumed after Kiev paid off outstanding debts and pre-paid for this winter's gas deliveries.