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Donetsk, Lugansk support Russia’s proposal to deploy UN mission to Donbass

The key condition for the UN mission deployment should be the law on Donbass’ status, says Russia's envoy

MINSK, September 6. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk support Russia’s proposal to deploy UN peacekeepers along the contact line in Donbass after the heavy weapons pullout and ceasefire, Boris Gryzlov, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the Contact Group seeking a peace solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, said on Wednesday.

"Today we have been discussing possible deployment of the UN mission that will ensure security of the OSCE mission in Donbass. The Russian delegation has confirmed its stance that the contingent should be deployed along the line of engagement. Simultaneously, heavy weapons and troops should be pulled back from the line of engagement in advance," Gryzlov said.

The key condition for the UN mission deployment should be the law on Donbass’ status, which is to be extended and amended so that it could be enacted on an ongoing basis and will come into force basing on the so-called ‘Steinmeier formula,’ according to the Russian envoy.

"Representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk have supported this idea of the UN contingent deployment," Gryzlov said.

"The first twelve days of the back-to-school ceasefire showed that if the parties demonstrate goodwill, it is possible to minimize the number of shelling attacks and improve the safety of civilians," he said. "The number of civilians crossing the line of contact through checkpoints has been increasing, which proves that the situation is improving," the Russian envoy added. According to him, participants in today’s meeting agreed that in the summer of 2017, the number of ceasefire violations had significantly reduced, compared with the same periods in 2015 and 2016.

The parties also discussed ways to strengthen the "back-to-school" ceasefire. The self-proclaimed Donbass republics have already taken all the necessary measures to ensure the ceasefire in accordance with the Contact Group’s decisions made on August 23. They signed and made public orders declaring ceasefire and banning groundless restrictions of the OSCE monitors’ activities. "However, Ukraine did not take such steps," the Russian envoy noted.

Gryzlov also said that in breach of the Minsk agreements, the Ukrainian authorities had enacted an amnesty law, which only applied to those participating in Kiev’s military operation in Donbass. "This law is unilateral is it does not apply to the Donetsk and Lugansk participants to the conflict," the Russian envoy said, adding that the lack of a comprehensive amnesty law impeded the all-for-all prisoner exchange.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia plans to submit to the United Nations Security Council a resolution on the deployment of UN peacekeepers along the line of engagement in Donbass to ensure safety of the OSCE mission. Nevertheless, he stressed that deployment of UN peacekeepers could only be possible after weapons withdrawal from the area and upon agreement with the self-proclaimed Donbass republics.