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Russian diplomat says Kiev must restrain its volunteer battalions acting in Donbas

April 03, 2015, 13:48 UTC+3
Shelling of the settlement of Shirokino was the result of actions of militants from the Azov battalion
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Azov battalion fighters

Azov battalion fighters

© EPA/TATYANA ZENKOVICH

MOSCOW, April 3. /TASS/. Pro-Kiev volunteer battalions acting in the country’s east are the source of major problems amid international efforts to resolve the ongoing conflict in the former Soviet state, Russia’s OSCE envoy Andrey Kelin said on Friday.

"The military formations at the issue are considered to be voluntary and are not part of the Ukrainian armed forces but they are causing major problems since they constantly provoke shootouts, including with the use of heavy weaponry," Kelin said. "The developments near the settlement of Shirokino were the result of actions of militants from the Azov battalion."

The OSCE envoy said that a total of 225 cases of mortar shelling of Shirokino were registered on Saturday.

"Although they were ordered to abandon the buffer zone by the end of March and then leave the zone of the so-called counter-terrorism operation, they keep staying and it creates major problems," Kelin said adding that everything was being registered in OSCE reports.

"Considering that it is the territory of Ukraine and no one but the Ukrainian authorities cannot and must not deal with it," Kelin said. "They [the Ukrainian authorities] must bring them to order and discipline or the problems will continue emerging."

The OSCE observers said in their latest report that the neighborhood of Shirokino east of Mariupol had been massively shelled by the Ukrainian military on March 28. The monitors said the shelling began as soon as they left Shirokino. Self-defense fighters of the Donetsk Republic opened retaliatory fire, the observers said.

The ceasefire between the Ukrainian conflicting sides started from midnight on February 15. The ceasefire regime is stipulated in a package of measures for the implementation of the accords signed in Minsk on February 12.

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