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German FM calls for immediate meeting of parties to Ukrainian conflict and OSCE

August 16, 2015, 14:57 UTC+3 BERLIN
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BERLIN, August 16. /TASS/. Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier suggests organising as soon as possible a meeting of military representatives of the parties to the Ukrainian conflict and OSCE.

"The situation in Ukraine’s east is potentially explosive," he said in an interview with Germany’s Bild am Sonntag. "Last week, during conversations with the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers I suggested organising not in two weeks, but as soon as possible, a meeting of military representatives of the conflicting sides and of OSCE in order to discuss how it may be possible to defuse the situation and to achieve withdrawal of the weapons."

"Quite a lot is at stake," the foreign minister said. "If the two parties to the conflict now do not demonstrate adherence to the peace process, a new round of military escalation may happen any moment."

Earlier on Sunday, Donetsk’s envoy to the Minsk peace talks Denis Pushilin called on the Minsk agreements’ guarantor-countries to interfere without delay in the situation in Donbass.

During the night to Sunday, Donetsk was under saturation fire. The republic’s defence ministry said under the fire were cities and towns along the entire front line. At least six people are reported injured and few killed.

On Friday, LPR head Igor Plotnitsky said heads of the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk republics [LPR, DPR] were waiting for a response from the "Normandy Four" to Kiev’s failure to honour the Minsk agreements. "To date, [DPR head] Alexander Zakharchenko and I have asked the "Normandy Four" to speak out and have their say. They see and know that Ukraine fails to implement the Minsk agreements. We are waiting for their reply," he said.

Situation around Ukraine’s Donbass

On April 7, 2014, the then Ukraine’s acting president Alexander Turchinov announced plans to launch an "anti-terrorist operation" in the country’s eastern regions that disagreed with the Kiev authorities’ policy. By summer 2014, clashes between Ukrainian army and local militias grew into large-scale combat operations involving heavy weapons and warplanes. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA], the violence in Ukraine has killed 6,500 people in the past year, wounded 16,000 and left 5 million people in need of humanitarian aid. With more than 1.3 million registered IDPs, Ukraine has now the ninth largest number of internally displaced in the world, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

The Minsk accords were signed on February 12, 2015 after 14-hour negotiations between the leaders of so-called Normandy Four [Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko] in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk. Concurrently, Minsk hosted a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukrainian settlement.

A 13-point Package of Measures on implementation of the September 2014 Minsk agreements in particular included an agreement on cessation of fire from February 15, withdrawal of heavy armaments, as well as measures on long-term political settlement of the situation in Ukraine, including establishment of working subgroups as priority tasks.

Four subgroups, tasked with addressing security, political, economic and humanitarian issues, are expected to advance work by the Contact Group in activating elements of the Minsk deal. The Contact Group and its all subgroups are due to meet next time on August 26 in Minsk.

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