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Russia, rebels attack Ukraine’s call for world peacekeepers

Russia, rebels attack Ukraine’s call for world peacekeepers
They argued the appeal, made late yesterday by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, sought to
“destroy” the UN-backed truce agreed under European mediation last week in the Belarus capital Minsk. But four days after coming into effect, that truce was already in tatters.

This week, the rebels ignored it to storm a strategic town they had surrounded, Debaltseve, forcing thousands of government troops there to flee.

Kiev, the EU, US, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) tasked with monitoring the truce all said the rebel assault on Debaltseve was a violation of the ceasefire meant to apply to the whole conflict zone.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of cynically manipulating diplomacy while covertly deploying soldiers and military backing to the pro-Moscow separatists. The Kremlin denies the allegation.

Poroshenko late yesterday won approval from Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council to invite UN-mandated peacekeepers into the country to monitor the frontline. “We see the best format would be a police mission from the European Union,” he said. The decision has yet to be approved by Ukraine’s parliament.

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, quickly responded by saying Poroshenko’s move “raises suspicions that he wants to destroy the Minsk accords”.

The co-leader of the rebel’s self-styled Donetsk republic, Denis Pushilin, flatly told the Interfax news agency that the appeal “is a violation... of the Minsk agreements”. He said Ukraine’s two rebel breakaway territories would write a letter to Russia, France and Germany to make Kiev abide by the terms of the faltering peace deal.

The rebels had claimed that Debaltseve -- a key railway hub between the rebel strongholds of Donetsk and Lugansk -- was inside their territory and therefore not subject to the ceasefire, even though their intense shelling had failed to dislodge thousands of government troops dug in there. 
Agencies

Agencies

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