Moscow, Kiev agree on Ukraine demilitarized zone
Iran Press TV
Wed May 11, 2016 10:43PM
Moscow and Kiev have agreed upon establishing demilitarized zones in areas held by pro-Russia fighters in eastern Ukraine, Germany says.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made the announcement following talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, and French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in Berlin on Wednesday.
He stressed that the implementation of the new measures would be "a big step forward" in the talks and would strengthen the present shaky ceasefire.
During the three-hour meeting, several other steps were agreed upon including further information-sharing and halting of military drills close to the border line, which divides areas held by pro-Russians and the Ukrainian territory.
Steinmeier added that Russia and Ukraine had also agreed to speed up measures to resolve the conflict under the supervision of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
He noted that despite certain advances, the talks failed to solve the issue of holding local elections.
"The greatest danger is that the conflict will escalate again," Steinmeier said. "I assume the parties to the conflict want to see progress in the discussions. Only this can prevent a flare-up of hostilities."
In February 2015, the warring sides reached a ceasefire deal dubbed Minsk II under the supervision of Russia, Germany, and France following an initial truce deal which was reached in September 2014 in the Belarusian capital in a bid to halt the clashes in Ukraine's eastern regions. However, both parties have on numerous occasions accused each other of breaking the ceasefire.
Ukraine's eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April 2014 to crush pro-Moscow protests there.
The crisis has left around 9,200 people dead and over 21,000 others injured, according to the United Nations.
Kiev and its allies, including the United States, have accused Russia of arming and supporting the pro-Russia forces fighting in eastern Ukraine for greater autonomy. Russia has rejected the accusations as groundless.
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