Published: Sep 01, 2014 6:18 AM EDT
Updated: Sep 01, 2014 1:07 PM EDT

MOSCOW- With a new round of talks on easing the crisis in Ukraine about to start, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is calling on the participants to push for a cease-fire between Ukrainian government troops and separatist forces.
    
The talks between the so-called contact group are being held today in Minsk, the Belarusian capital.
    
Speaking to students at Moscow State Institute of International Relation, Lavrov says the priority of the talks should be reaching agreement on an immediate unconditional cease-fire.
    
A representative of the Russia-backed separatists, Andrei Purgin, tells the Interfax news agency that their priority is to win recognition of their independence in eastern Ukraine, which has a large Russian-speaking population. He says they're also willing to discuss the exchange of prisoners and a temporary cease-fire.