Russia and Ukraine in new peace bid


Published: Tuesday 14th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Russia and Ukraine agreed to call for the withdrawal of smaller calibre weapons from the eastern Ukraine frontline as part of a fresh push to end the region’s year-long conflict.

Foreign ministers from the two countries also agreed to support international monitors and establish four working groups to address the most pressing issues faced by people in the embattled region, where Russian-backed separatists are fighting Ukrainian government forces.

The meeting in Berlin also involved the French and German foreign ministers, and took place amid fresh clashes in the Donetsk area and near the village of Shyrokyne, by the Azov Sea.

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who hosted the meeting, insisted afterwards that the parties had no alternative but to abide by agreements forged in the Belarusian capital Minsk in February and September.

“Everyone knows that we have a long path ahead of us,” he said. “But we’re going to do everything we can to continue this process.”

He said the new deal calls for the withdrawal of mortars and heavy weapons below 100mm (3.94ins) calibre, as well as all types of tanks.

Mr Steinmeier said the four diplomats also agreed on the need to establish four working groups to address security issues, and the process for holding a local election in rebel-occupied areas.

The groups will also attempt to restart the exchange of prisoners of war, and to improve the dire economic situation in eastern Ukraine.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said the parties were unable to agree on Ukraine’s demands for the deployment of peacekeepers.

He also criticised laws passed recently by the Ukrainian parliament, which he said were eroding the Minsk deal.

“We underlined the need to fulfill the Minsk agreements in their entirety, not just in the military segment, but also in political, economic and humanitarian spheres,” Mr Lavrov said.

Published: Tuesday 14th April 2015 by The News Editor

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