Fri, Feb 20, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Ukraine, Russia, Germany, France urge truce compliance and condemn breaches

AFP, KIEV

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks during a meeting of the Security and Defence Council in Kiev on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP/ Ukraine Presidential Press Service / Mykhaylo Markiv

The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France yesterday jointly urged that a tattered truce in east Ukraine be restored and condemned breaches in recent days, according to official accounts of a four-way telephone call.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko slammed in particular the rebel storming of the key eastern town of Debaltseve this week and called for international “guarantees” should further violations happen, his office said.

Poroshenko said that a stalled withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline, agreed under the German and French-mediated truce, could only happen once the ceasefire was deemed to be “comprehensive.”

He also called for all prisoners to be released — “including those who had been captured near Debaltseve.”

The German statement said Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to persuade the rebels to carry out a prisoner exchange.

Poroshenko, Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande all agreed that Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) observers tasked with monitoring the ceasefire should be allowed to do their job unhindered.

The OSCE mission in Ukraine has complained for days that its team has been prevented by the rebels from entering Debaltseve, where thousands of Ukrainian troops were on Wednesday forced to flee pro-Russian rebels who launched an assault in violation of the ceasefire.

The French presidency statement said OSCE representatives would meet the warring parties to “quickly put in place” the measures agreed last week in the Belarus capital Minsk.

It said “the four leaders called for the implementation of the full package of measures agreed in Minsk,” including a full ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons and the release of prisoners.

The statement said that foreign ministers from the four countries would speak later yesterday to define how the ceasefire was being implemented. A French diplomatic source also said that there soon “will be a meeting, maybe in Paris.”

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