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Ukraine decision to give up non-bloc status increases conflict potential in Europe

December 23, 2014, 19:58 UTC+3
An attempt has been made, through rapprochement with NATO, to position Ukraine as “a frontline state” that needs protection, Russia's Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko says
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Alexander Grushko (center)

Alexander Grushko (center)

© TASS/EPA/BERND VON JUTRCZENKA

BRUSSELS, December 23. /TASS/. The Ukrainian parliament’s decision to give up the non-bloc status leads to increasing the conflict potential in Europe, Russia's Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko said on Tuesday.

“The Rada’s decision only increases the conflict potential in Europe and in Ukraine itself where no one should play over the status but to work on the priorities in the economic and social fields, primarily on the fulfilment of all obligations that the Ukrainian authorities assumed in Geneva and Minsk,” Grushko said.

Ukraine assumed obligations “to terminate hostilities, exchange prisoners, start an inclusive political dialogue and carry out a transparent constitutional reform for meeting the interests of all regions”, he said.

An attempt has been made to position Ukraine as “a frontline state” in need of protection, Russia’s permanent representative to NATO Alexander Grushko said Tuesday in comment on the decision by Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, to give up the country’s non-aligned status.

“An attempt has been made, through rapprochement with NATO, to position Ukraine as a ‘frontline state’ that needs protection and thus decline all responsibility for events in the country,” Grushko said.

He said it is “evident that the Kiev authorities appeal to those in the West who staked on confrontation with Russia and who are proponents of continuing the alliance’s ‘open-door policy’ and ignore the pan-European security criteria.”

The Rada on Tuesday voted to give up Ukraine’s non-aligned status. The bill submitted by President Pyotr Poroshenko envisions “giving up the status of a non-aligned state and return to the policy of rapprochement with NATO.”

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said representatives of the Kiev authorities speaking for quitting the non-aligned status are doing so in order to solve the conflict in Ukraine’s southeast by military means. He said Ukraine’s status beyond any blocs is “one of the most important components ensuring European security.”

“The figures among the current Ukrainian leadership who speak for abandoning the non-aligned status do not conceal that they are doing that to solve problems of the southeast by military means, to fight Russia as the main adversary,” the top Russian diplomat said.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in turn that Russia would like to hear that NATO would stop getting closer to Russia’s borders but added that “we do not hear that unfortunately.”

Over 4,000 people have lost their lives and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April, to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics, according to United Nations data.

A ceasefire was agreed upon at talks between the parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

Numerous violations of the ceasefire, which took effect the same day, have been reported since.

A memorandum was adopted on September 19 in Minsk by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. The document outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.

The nine-point memorandum in particular envisioned a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

A "day of silence" in eastern Ukraine began at 09:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on December 9. It was seen as another attempt by both parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict to put an end to hostilities.

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