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Russian Foreign Ministry Says Kiev Used Ceasefire to Regroup Troops

Sputnik News

21:36 18.01.2015(updated 01:28 19.01.2015)

Moscow has expressed deep concern over Kiev's increasing military presence in Donbas despite the Minsk agreements.

MOSCOW, January 18 (Sputnik) – Moscow demands strict adherence to the Minsk agreements on peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian conflict, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

"Russian side tries to achieve strict adherence to the Minsk agreements regarding peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. This is a central goal in our contacts with Ukrainian leadership, with the leaders of self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (DPR, LPR), representatives of the concerned foreign countries, including in the 'Normandy format'," the statement published on Foreign Ministry's website reads.

Moscow has expressed deep concern over Kiev's increasing military presence in Donbas despite the Minsk agreements.

"The fact that the Ukrainian side in defiance of the Minsk agreements continues to increase its military presence in the southeast of the country causes deep concern. This can be proven by, in particular, increased militarization, announcements of 'new waves' of Ukrainian citizens' mobilization, Kiev's calls to 'take a revenge for situation on 'the ground'' developed before the signing of the Minsk agreements in September 2014," the statement continued.

According to the ministry, Kiev has used the recently-achieved ceasefire in Ukraine only to regroup its military forces, aiming to resolve the situation in Donbas by forceful means.

"It is clear that Kiev authorities used the recent truce to regroup their forces, and now try to set a course for further escalation of the conflict in an attempt to solve it in a 'military way'," the statement said.

Last week the press service of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that Ukraine is regrouping its military and reinforcing units in the 'hot spots' in the country's east, where Kiev launched a military operation against local independence supporters last spring.

Moscow also highlighted that in accordance with the Minsk agreements, control over Donetsk airport should be handed over to local independence supporters.

"Control of the airport of the Donetsk city in accordance with the Minsk agreements must be handed over to local militia. This issue could not be resolved for a long time due to conflicts involving some other participants in the line of contact, but in the meantime Ukrainian forces continued to shell from the airport building Donetsk and other populated areas, which resulted in the deaths of civilians, including women and children; schools, residential buildings and other infrastructure were ruined," according to the statement.

"To prevent such actions, DPR forces have taken the airport under their control," the Foreign Ministry said.

Moscow is doing everything in its power to make sure the Contact Group on Ukrainian reconciliation meets early next week and is calling on all participants to avoid another breakdown, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.

"We are doing everything in our power for the Contact Group to convene early next week. We are urging its members and all those influencing the situation to prevent another breakdown [in talks]," the foreign ministry's statement reads.

According to the statement posted on the ministry's website, representatives of the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics (DPR and LPR) arrived in Minsk on Friday for scheduled talks on the Ukrainian crisis.

"However, Ukrainian representatives did not appear in the Belarusian capital and the meeting was disrupted," the statement added.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called for an immediate return to practical work within the Contact Group for "comprehensive implementation" of the Minsk agreements.

In September of last year, a ceasefire agreement was reached between Kiev forces and independence supporters in Donbas at a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine in Minsk, which was also attended by representatives from Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Later that month, at another Minsk meeting, a memorandum specifying the implementation of the ceasefire was signed. The agreement stipulates the withdrawal of heavy artillery from Donbas, the creation of a 30-kilometer (18-mile) buffer zone along the line of contact between the conflicting sides and an 'all-for-all' exchange of prisoners.

However, despite the Minsk agreements, fighting continues in southeastern Ukraine. A 'silence regime' was declared in Donbas in December, but clashes in the region have intensified in the first weeks of 2015.

The Minsk format is one of the four formats implemented by international mediators to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian crisis. A new round of negotiations on the Ukrainian crisis in the Normandy format, which comprises Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, is expected take place at the end of January in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana.


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