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Poroshenko: some 600 Ukrainian servicemen are in captivity in eastern Ukraine

January 16, 2015, 1:43 UTC+3 KIEV
In line with the Minsk deals, they need to be freed, he added
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© EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

KIEV, January 15. /TASS/. The only way to settle the crisis in Ukraine’s southeast is “unconditional and immediate implementation of the Minsk agreements” that are recognized by all parties to the conflict, the Ukrainian presidential press service reported Thursday.

The report came after a meeting of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko with a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) led by its President Anne Brasseur.

“The meeting participants agreed that the Minsk agreements should be unconditionally and immediately implemented as they have been recognized by all parties to the conflict and are the only way of peace settlement,” the press service said.

Poroshenko said “some 600 Ukrainian servicemen are in captivity” in eastern Ukraine and in line with the Minsk deals, they need to be freed.

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 2014, to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR), according to UN 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, 2014 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. Both Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics voiced the necessity to start withdrawal of heavy armaments, swap prisoners and demilitarize the region.

The situation in the region recently deteriorated when a passenger bus bound from Donetsk to Zlatoustovka was shelled on January 13. Twelve civilians were killed and 16 wounded.

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