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Poroshenko, Security Chiefs To Review Peace Accord With Rebels

November 04, 2014

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is meeting with his security chiefs to reexamine the peace accord with pro-Russian separatists two days after they staged elections he has dismissed as a 'farce.'

Poroshenko is meeting with his National Security and Defense Council in the Ukrainian capital.

Ahead of that gathering, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added his voice to the growing international chorus of critics of the weekend voting, which was marked by pro-Russian gunmen manning the polling places and an 'observer' mission culled from fringe Western politicians.

Ban said 'the quote-and-unquote elections in the eastern part of the country this past Sunday are an unfortunate and counterproductive development,' adding, according to AFP.

'I urge all parties concerned to urgently recommit to full implementation of the letter and spirit of the Minsk protocol and memorandum designed to bring peace and stability to all of Ukraine.'

Poroshenko has said the meeting on November 4 will consider the 'abolition' of a law that was passed in accordance with a peace plan agreed on September 5 in Minsk and granted limited autonomy to the two separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine.

He called the rebel-held voting in Donetsk and Luhansk 'pseudo-elections' that are 'a gross violation of the September 5 Minsk protocol.'

He also said he would only deal with 'legitimately elected local self-government bodies.'

Separatists 'Inaugurated'

The meeting in Kyiv comes as rebel commander Aleksandr Zakharchenko was sworn into office on November 4 as the head of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, the entity that arose when government buildings were stormed in the area in the spring.

Lawmakers from Russia and Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region, whose independence is recognized only by Russia and three other countries, attended the event.

Aleksei Zhuravlyov, a Russian lawmaker from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, congratulated Zakharchenko, declaring: 'Russia doesn't give up on its own.'

Another separatist leader, Igor Plotnitsky, is expected to be sworn in later in the day as the head of the 'Luhansk People's Republic,' in the other region where pro-Russian forces hold significant territory.

Separatist officials claim that Zakharchenko won 81 percent of the vote and Plotnitsky won about 64 percent of the vote in their respective elections on November 2.

In the wake of the elections, Moscow has called on Kyiv to treat the rebel leaders as negotiating partners.

Russia's permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said in Vienna on November 3 that 'it is of paramount importance to take active steps towards a sustained dialogue between the central Ukrainian authorities and Donbas representatives in the context of the Minsk accords.'

He was speaking to the Permanent Council of the OSCE, which did not send election monitors to the rebel polls.

'Sham' Elections

A Russian deputy foreign minister, Grigory Karasin, also has said the newly elected leadership in eastern Ukraine has a mandate to negotiate with Kyiv.

But Western powers are rejecting the elections amid fears that they could create a new 'frozen conflict' in post-Soviet Europe and further threaten the territorial unity of Ukraine.

In Washington, the White House said it will not recognize the 'sham' elections held by the separatists.

The spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on November 3 that Germany could not understand how 'official Russian voices' were talking of recognizing the elections.

NATO's top military commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, said Russia continues to resuppy the pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine, and estimated that some 250-300 Russian forces are still operating inside Ukraine.

Breedlove noted on November 3 what he called a trend toward the hardening of the line of demarcation between Ukrainian government forces and the separatists, saying it 'has become more defined.'

With reporting by Interfax, TASS, Reuters, and dpa

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/ukraine-strategy-peace-/26673782.html

Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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