Sergei Lavrov
Russia's Foreign Minister Seergei Lavrov urged Kiev to grant more autonomy to eastern UkraineReuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called on Ukraine's central government to give Russian-speakers more autonomy.

Arguing that political reforms were the best way to keep the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk within Ukraine, Russia's top foreign policy figure criticised Kiev for its actions in the region.

Ukraine needed constitutional reform "with the participation of all regions and all political powers" in the pro-Russian areas in the country's east, Lavrov said, as quoted by Interfax news agency.

Lavrov condemned Urkaine's central government based in Kiev for refusing to offer the east more autonomy.

"I very much hope that the steps which the Ukrainian leadership is taking, provoking the tearing away of Donbass, will end," he told Interfax.

The foreign minister said he wanted Kiev to move "toward establishing a dialogue with Donbass in order to work out the agreements that will allow all Ukrainians from all the regions to live in Ukraine with equality and respect".

More than 4,700 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine in April.

Russia has called on all sides to host a fresh round of peace talks, after a previously agreed ceasefire was broken on a number of occasions.

The US and the European Union have repeatedly criticised Russia for fuelling the conflict in eastern Ukraine, accusing Moscow of providing manpower and weapons to rebel groups.

The allies imposed a range of economic sanctions on Russia in response, sparking widespread capital flight and accelerating the country's economy toward recession.

Russia has denied any involvement in the conflict.