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BRUSSELS, July 18. /ITAR-TASS/. The international contact group on Ukraine is deeply concerned over an absence of dialogue with representatives of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, the press office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Wednesday.
The trilateral contact group of senior representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE “has made all necessary efforts for a resumption of consultations with self-defense militia representatives in east Ukraine," the OSCE report said.
Unfortunately, a video conference with self-defense fighters scheduled for July 15 “with the aim of agreeing on modalities for a next round of consultations, and agreed upon at the highest international level, did not materialize,” the report said.
“The contact group is seriously concerned about the fact that since June 27, no such consultations have taken place.”
In the opinion of the contact group, this indicates a lack of willingness on the side of self-defense fighters “to engage in substantive talks on a mutually agreed ceasefire,” the OSCE said.
The contact group has appealed to representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics "to return to consultations without further delay".
Situation in Ukraine's south-east
Pro-Kiev troops and local militias in the southeastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions are involved in fierce clashes as the Ukrainian armed forces are conducting a military operation to regain control over the breakaway regions, which on May 11 proclaimed their independence at local referendums.
During the military operation, conducted since mid-April, Kiev has used armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. According to Ukraine’s Health Ministry, 478 civilians have been killed and 1,392 wounded in hostilities. Many buildings have been destroyed and tens of thousands of people have had to flee Ukraine’s embattled south-east.
The Ukrainian army lost 258 soldiers, and another 922 were wounded in Kiev’s military operation in Ukraine’s embattled south-east, Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesperson Andriy Lysenko said on Tuesday.
Lysenko added that 45 Ukrainian soldiers remained in captivity, including two pilots shot down in an Antonov An-26 civilian and military transport aircraft.