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Ukraine leaders says truce deal 'not working'

16 march 2015, 14:10
0
President Petro Poroshenko. ©AFP
President Petro Poroshenko. ©AFP

 Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko slammed a month-old peace deal with pro-Russian rebels as "not working" Sunday as a pro-government militia member was killed in continuing clashes, AFP reports.

"The truth is that the accord is not working," Poroshenko told Germany's Bild newspaper in an interview at the start of a two-day visit to Berlin, accusing the separatists of reneging on their end of the February 12 accord.

Poroshenko accused the rebels of continuing to attack government positions on a daily basis, "often more than 60 times a day", and of thwarting the work of European ceasefire monitors.

The monitors from the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe say they cannot confirm both sides are fulfilling their commitment to withdraw heavy weapons without being given full access to their inventories.

The observers have particularly complained of obstructions in inspections on the rebel side.

Poroshenko, who is to hold talks on Monday with Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the architects of the peace deal, said the Minsk agreement was "a hope, not a reality."

   More sanctions? 

 "There has to be a reaction to the violation of the ceasefire. It could be more sanctions -- in any case the current sanctions should be extended to the end of the year," he said, referring to EU and US measures taken against Russia.

Poroshenko also urged a boycott of the 2018 football World Cup in Russia.

Kiev and the West accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of backing the insurgency with troops and heavy weapons -- charges Moscow denies.

On Wednesday, the US added a Russian bank and separatist officials in eastern Ukraine to its black list.

In an interview with Ukrainian television Friday Poroshenko had taken a more upbeat view of the ceasefire, hailing a "gradual de-escalation".

His interview with Bild appeared aimed at persuading Europe not to be soften its stance on Russia, despite the violence having significantly abated.

The continuing skirmishes have been concentrated on the outskirts of the rebel-held city of Donetsk and a village east of Mariupol -- a mainly Russian-speaking port still in government hands.

The Dnipro-1 militia said one of its fighters had been killed near Pisky village, close to Donetsk's bombed-out airport.

The fatality was the first on the government side in four days. The separatists rarely give accounts of their losses.

Ukrainian army spokesman Andriy Lysenko said a soldier had also been injured in the previous 24 hours.

    Crimea anniversary 

 On Monday, Russians will mark the anniversary of a referendum in Crimea that set the stage for Russia to annex the peninsula from Ukraine and inspired the insurgency in Ukraine's east.

Crimea will celebrate its year with Russia with three days of rallies and concerts in the capital, Simferopol. Celebrations are also planned later in the week in Moscow.

Within a month of Russia's takeover of Crimea, Ukraine's eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions had erupted.

The pro-Russia insurgency has led to the deaths of over 6,000 people, according to a UN report.

In Friday's interview with Ukraine's 1+1 network Poroshenko expressed confidence that Western powers would arm Ukraine against the separatists in the event of a major ceasefire violation.

So far Kiev's appeals to the West for sophisticated weapons have fallen on deaf ears.

The separatists accuse Kiev of dragging its feet on implementing the political aspects of the accord.

The agreement gave Ukraine's parliament until March 14 to adopt a resolution setting out the boundaries of rebel-held areas to be given a form of self rule.

Poroshenko has submitted a draft resolution to parliament, which has yet to be put to a vote.


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