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Russia wants Kiev’s guarantees of compliance with New Year truce — diplomat

The ‘New Year’ ceasefire, agreed upon at a session of the Contact Group in Minsk on Wednesday, began on December 23

VIENNA, December 21./TASS/. A New Year ceasefire is meant to ease tensions, and Russia expects from Ukraine firm guarantees of compliance with it, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday.

"A new ‘New Year’ ceasefire from December 23, which the sides agreed upon at a session of the Contact Group in Minsk on December 20, is meant to defuse tension," Lukashevich said. "However, there is no confidence in the Ukrainian side - firm guarantees are needed that the ceasefire will be observed," he went on. "We expect that at least punitive battalions and units of the Right Sector will be pulled back from the contact line," the envoy told a session of the OSCE Permanent Council.

He also said that the orders for the Ukrainian Armed Forces not to use weapons must be published. Meanwhile, statements come from the Ukrainian side that the military group in Donbass is beefed up, he added.

A ceasefire coordinated by the Contact Group for the settlement in eastern Ukraine is formally in place in Donbass. After the ceasefire was declared on August 25, ahead of the new school year, tensions along the line of contact eased to a certain extent. However, ceasefire violations continue to take place and both parties keep putting the blame on each other.

On December 20, members of the Contact Group agreed to declare a ceasefire starting from midnight on December 23. The ceasefire is expected to be indefinite.