Putin: Russia will ask UN to send peacekeepers to east Ukraine

Separatists have opposed Ukraine’s suggestion to deploy UN forces in war zone

Military  cadets attend a ceremony as the academic year begins in Donetsk, in the contested region of Ukraine,  on September 1st, 2017. Photograph: Aleksey Filippov/AFP/Getty Images

Military cadets attend a ceremony as the academic year begins in Donetsk, in the contested region of Ukraine, on September 1st, 2017. Photograph: Aleksey Filippov/AFP/Getty Images

 

Russia will ask the UN Security Council to send peacekeepers to patrol the front line in eastern Ukraine, the Russian president Vladimir Putin has said.

Fighting between Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists in the region has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014.

A 2015 peace deal brokered by Germany and France helped reduce the scale of fighting, but clashes have continued.

The separatists have opposed Ukraine’s suggestion to deploy peacekeepers in the war zone, but the Russian president told reporters that UN forces could help ensure safety for international observers monitoring the ceasefire.

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He insisted the peacekeepers should be deployed only along the line separating the rebel-controlled territories and the area under government control where the clashes occur.

Formal request

Russia’s foreign ministry will file a formal request with the UN Security Council, Mr Putin said.

So-called “Normandy Format” peace talks between Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France have largely stalled recently, with a truce timed to the start of the new school year breaking down almost immediately after it was agreed at the end of August.

German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said Mr Putin’s announcement was “surprising” but he was “very glad... the Russian president said today he will continue to negotiate about demands that were rejected in the past by Russia”.

“More importantly, this offer of a UN mission in eastern Ukraine shows that Russia has effected a change in its policies that we should not gamble away.

“It would be good if we take it as an opening to talk about new ways of detente.”

AP