BERLIN, June 23. /TASS/. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday warned against further escalation in the Ukraine conflict, saying that an agreed ceasefire between Kiev’s forces and people’s militias in the east was still being violated on a regular basis.
"The ceasefire is being violated every day, more frequently than several weeks ago," German news agency DPA quoted Steinmeier as saying ahead of peace talks with the foreign ministers of Russia, France and Ukraine in Paris.
"All conflicting parties should help prevent the military escalation from reaching such a level that the situation gets out of control both militarily and politically," Steinmeier said, adding that "essential prerequisites for a political resolution of the conflict" were observing the ceasefire, withdrawing heavy weapons and providing free access to international observers sent by European security watchdog OSCE to monitor the truce.
Under terms of the peace deal agreed by leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in the Belarusian capital Minsk on February 12, the ceasefire regime in east Ukraine came into effect at midnight on February 15.
The deal also sought pull-back of heavy weapons from the front line by at least 15 kilometers (9 miles), prisoner release and agreement for OSCE observers to monitor the truce.
Withdrawal was due to start no later than the second day after the truce came into effect, for completion within two weeks.
Based on September’s stillborn Minsk peace protocol, the deal also laid out a road map for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and reforms to give the war-torn eastern regions more autonomy.