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Moscow hopes West’s signals to Kiev finally work — diplomat

Moscow expects that the upcoming ministerial-level meeting in the Normandy format (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) will produce results, Russia's envoy to OSCE says

MOSCOW, May 6. /TASS/. Moscow hopes that the West’s signals to Kiev have finally started having effect and the situation on the contact line in Donbass arouses cautious optimism, Russia’s envoy to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Alexander Lukashevich said.

The diplomat reminded that the sides agreed to ensure ceasefire during the celebration of the Orthodox Easter last Sunday. The OSCE monitors said no ceasefire violations were registered in the Lugansk region on some days and the number of violations in the Donetsk region significantly dropped.

"The situation allows voicing cautious optimism. We hope that the recent signals from Western partners to Kiev authorities have finally taken the right effect," Lukashevich said at the OSCE Permanent Council’s meeting in Vienna on Thursday, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

However, the presence of radicals and foreign mercenaries on the contact line and also "problems with discipline" among the Ukrainian forces did not allow observing the full silence regime in Donbass, Lukashevich said.

The diplomat stressed the need for increasing the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) activity in the security zone. "All the mission’s resources in Donbass should be deployed in this direction," he said. "The SMM’s containing potential is now in demand more than ever to confirm the positive tendency and make the ceasefire regime a permanent one."

Russia expects fruitful ministerial meeting in Normandy format

Moscow expects that the upcoming ministerial-level meeting in the Normandy format (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) will produce results, Alexander Lukashevich went on to say.

"The favorable moment [situation in Donbass -TASS] should be used for intensifying the work of the Contact Group and implementing political, economic and humanitarian aspects of the Minsk agreements," Lukashevich said at the OSCE Permanent Council’s meeting in Vienna on Thursday, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"We also expect that the upcoming ministerial meeting in the Normandy format will be fruitful," he said.

Lukashevich reminded that a whole range of provisions of the Minsk agreements, including on the Donbass elections and constitutional reform, "envisage coordination with representatives of Donbas militias."

"One needs to bear this in mind while drawing up various projects," the diplomat stressed. "They key to stable and peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis is in real direct dialogue of Kiev with Donetsk and Lugansk."

Earlier reports said the next meeting of foreign ministers of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine will be held in Berlin on May 11.

OSCE SMM should keep monitoring military hardware in Donbass

According to Lukashevich, Russia calls on the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe not to decrease its activity in the security zone in Ukraine when monitoring military equipment.

"We call on the mission not to decrease activity when monitoring military equipment in the ‘security zone’ and report about its absence in the warehouses," Lukashevich said at the OSCE Permanent Council’s meeting in Vienna on Thursday, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

According to the SMM, between April 27 and May 3 a total of 9 howitzers, 6 tanks, 3 anti-aircraft weapon systems and 3 anti-tank guns of Ukrainian forces were spotted near the contact line in violation of the Minsk agreements, he said.

"At the same period, during visiting Ukrainian warehouses the monitors did not find 46 howitzers, 111 tanks, 21 anti-tank guns and 14 mortars," he said, adding that shells were still fired at the Ukrainian training ground in Tryokhizvenka.

The diplomat also thanked the mission for assistance in mine clearance. The monitors draw attention of the Ukrainian administration and the Joint Center for Ceasefire Control and Coordination (JCCC) that anti-tank mines had been planted near a bus stop in the Novotoshkovskoye village, in the Lugansk region. "The Ukrainian Armed Forces decided to eliminate this serious threat for the civilian population," he said.

The Russian side expects a constructive reaction of the SMM towards its proposals on increasing the mission’s efficiency that it voiced during the previous meeting of the Permanent Council, Lukashevich said.

Attempts to take blame off Kiev for Donbass punitive operation dangerous

The attempts to remove the blame from the Ukrainian authorities for the consequences of their punitive operation in the Donbass region are extremely dangerous, Russia’s Permanent Representative at European security agency OSCE Alexander Lukashevich said on Friday.

The envoy’s speech at a session of the OSCE Permanent Council was posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.

"According to available information, Kiev has made a decision to pull back its 14th separate mechanized brigade whose units recently shelled Yelenovka on April 27 from the engagement line. This does not exonerate its command from the responsibility for the acts committed but will possibly contribute to a calmer situation near Donetsk," the Russian envoy said.

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) needs to establish thorough and mirror-like observation of the security zone in east Ukraine, Lukashevich said.

"All of the mission’s available resources in Donbass should be used for this purpose," he said.

"The SMM’s restraining potential is now needed as never before to bolster the positive trend and make the ceasefire regime permanent," the envoy said.

"The instances similar to the above-mentioned Yelenovka shelling must not be repeated," Lukashevich said.

"Those who decided at the Permanent Council’s previous session to keep silent about this incident or who erroneously qualified it as cross-fire obviously had been unable or had had no time to read attentively the SMM’s corresponding report, which indicated quite clearly both the consequences of the shelling and the direction, from which the fire had been delivered," Russia’s OSCE representative said.

"On our part, we could not but pay attention to the pronouncements of some western colleagues to the effect that ‘it is not important who precisely shelled Yelenovka," Lukashevich noted.

"The attempts to exonerate the Kiev authorities from the blame for the consequences of the Donbass punitive operation are extremely dangerous," the Russian envoy said.

The Yelenovka check point was closed on April 27 as it came under the shelling of the Ukrainian army. Instances of direct hits were registered in the area of the check point where civilian motor vehicles were staying.

The shelling killed five persons, including a pregnant woman, and wounded another 13. The Ukrainian army shelled the check point from artillery guns and mortars from the village of Taramchuk, five kilometers from Yelenovka.