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Kiev seeking to provoke Donbass to resort to force scenario — DPR’s top diplomat

DONETSK, April 6. /TASS/. Kiev is seeking to escalate the conflict in Donbass to provoke the self-proclaimed republics to resort to a force scenario, Foreign Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republics (DPR) Natalia Nikonorova said on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky discussed the current escalation in Donbass with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and said that the North Atlantic Alliance was the only way to stop the conflict in Donbass.

"It is obvious for us that such statements of the Ukrainian president, along with the cynical shelling of our territory by Ukrainian armed units and further escalation of tension along the contact line directly indicate that in a hope to dodge its commitments under the Package of Measures, Kiev is seeking to provoke the republics to resort to a force scenario and bring the conflict to a hot phase. But Ukraine’s leaders should bear in mind that we can respond to any provocation adequately," she was quoted as saying on the DPR foreign ministry’s Telegram channel.

She stressed that the Donbass republics stay committed to the Minsk agreements and call on Kiev to demonstrate similar commitment. "We would like to recall that the Package of Measures was approved by the United Nations Security Council as the only mechanism of peace settlement. But while the entire civilized world agrees that there are no alternatives to the Minsk accords and calls for their implementation, Kiev speaks about reaching peace via joining a military alliance - an oxymoron the Ukrainian leader is sending to the media space with a serious face. Needless to say that such calls call to question Ukraine’s already ragged reputation as a negotiating partner," Nikonorova stressed.

The situation in Donbass escalated on March 26, when four Ukrainian troops were killed near the settlement of Shumy. Kiev put the blame for that on the DPR forces whereas Donetsk said it had nothing to do with the incident. Later, the DPR’s defense ministry said that the four Ukrainian soldiers had run into an explosive device during mine actions.

Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said earlier that the Kremlin was concerned over Ukraine’s possible provocations in southeastern Ukraine that might be fraught with a civil war threat. On Wednesday, Russia’s chief negotiator in the Contact Group on the settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Boris Gryzlov, slammed Kiev’s position on matters of security in the conflict zone in Donbass as irresponsible.

The Contact Group on the settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine, which held a videoconference meeting on July 22, 2020 agreed additional measures to control the ceasefire along the contact line in Donbass that came in force from July 27. The agreement came a year after the so-called indefinite ceasefire was declared by the parties on July 21, 2019 following more than 20 futile attempts to stop hostilities. Under the agreement, the parties to the conflict are banned to stage offensive and reconnaissance operations, use any types of drones, open fire, including from sniper weapons, and deploy heavy weapons in populated localities and addition engineering equipment at their positions. One of the key provisions is the use of disciplinary measures for ceasefire violations.