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Russian diplomat suspects Kiev of preparing military operation in Donbass

July 08, 12:46 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Alexander Lukashevich claims signs of dangerous build-up of military activities of Ukrainian Armed Forces were registered in different parts of the contact line in the region
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Ukrainian soldiers

Ukrainian soldiers

© AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

MOSCOW, July 8. /TASS/. Stalling implementation of the Minsk Agreements and build-up of Ukrainian Armed Forces near the contact line may mean that Kiev’s prepares for a military operation in Donbass, Russian Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Alexander Lukashevich said on Friday.

"Kiev does not show signs of readiness to implement the package of measures and stalls for time. That’s why they regularly stage provocations near the contact line," Lukashevich said at the session of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna. "More and more statements have been made lately about ‘infeasibility’ of the Minsk package of measures, about ‘inevitability’ of returning Donbass by force," the diplomat continued. "If the intention to carry out a military operation stands behind these actions, then it will lead to tragic consequences," he noted.

Especially concerning are intensifying shellings of residential areas in Donbass, Lukashevich stressed. "Over the last two weeks, signs of dangerous build-up of military activities of Ukrainian Armed Forces were registered in different parts of the contact line in Donbass," he said. "There are also reports about cleansings carried out by Ukrainian forces in settlements near the contact line - Maryinka and Schastye," Lukashevich said.

He also noted "information about deliveries of foreign military equipment, including unmanned aerial vehicles, to Ukraine that will adjust artillery fire."

The ambassador reminded about the raid of Ukrainian forces from Svetlodarsk toward Debaltsevo on June 29, when they used tanks and heavy artillery. "It is obvious that we see another attempt to seize more territory, to collect information about the defense line of the self-defense forces. This instance cannot be described as ‘self-shelling’ of the self-defense forces in any case," he noted.

"Out of all settlements that came under fire, as noted in reports by the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of OSCE, around 80% of them are controlled by self-defense forces," Lukashevich said adding that over 60% of weapons disappeared from Ukrainian army’s warehouses.

The Minsk accords were signed on 12 February 2015, after negotiations in the so-called "Normandy format" in the Belarusian capital Minsk, bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko. The package of measures envisages ceasefire, weaponry withdrawal, prisoner exchange, local election in Donbass, constitutional reform in Ukraine and establishing working sub-groups on security, political, economy and humanitarian components of the Minsk accords.

Security in Donbass depends on OSCE mission

The diplomat has also underlined the importance of international observers' presence in the region. It is necessary to boost patrol capabilities of the SMM of the OSCE and establish its closer coordination with Donetsk and Lugansk in order to strengthen security in Donbass, Lukashevich said.

"In case with fulfilling measures on strengthening security in Donbass, a more consistent and phased approach should be used," Lukashevich said at the session of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna. "This includes ceasefire, disengagement of forces, withdrawal and storage of weapons. It will require significantly boosting patrol capabilities of OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission in the security zone. Guarantees are needed that demilitarized zones will not be captured again after the withdrawal of forces," he added.

SMM should "develop cooperation with JCCC (Joint Center for Control and Coordination), establish closer contacts with representatives of administrations of Donetsk and Lugansk," he continued. Such measures "will allow to ensure more freedom of movement for observers, eliminate misunderstanding and confusion," the diplomat noted.

At the same time, steps on strengthening security should be made "simultaneously with progress at talks on political aspects of settlement that include several issues connected with the entering into forces of Ukrainian laws on special status of separate parts of Donbass, amnesty, elections, amendments to the constitution," Lukashevich noted.

The Package of measures also envisages coordinating several issues with representatives of Donbass in the framework of the Contact Group, he reminded. "Direct dialogue between the sides is needed for this, and it cannot be substituted with any other formats," he concluded.

The Minsk accords were signed on 12 February 2015, after negotiations in the so-called "Normandy format" in the Belarusian capital Minsk, bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko. The package of measures envisages ceasefire, weaponry withdrawal, prisoner exchange, local election in Donbass, constitutional reform in Ukraine and establishing working sub-groups on security, political, economy and humanitarian components of the Minsk accords.

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