US secretary of state urges Russian counterpart to implement truce on Ukraine

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Saturday, urging full implementation of the Minsk agreements on ending fighting in Ukraine, including a midnight ceasefire.

Kerry also expressed concern to Lavrov about the fierce fighting around the town of Debaltseve, and efforts by Russia and the separatists to cut off the town in advance of the ceasefire, a senior State Department official said.

Kiev and Nato have long charged that Russia is backing separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine with arms and men. But Russia denies its involvement.