For the first time since a ceasefire came into effect on Feb. 15, and in fact for the first time in several weeks, Ukrainian officials reported Wednesday that there had been no deaths in East Ukraine over the previous 24-hour period. Meanwhile, in an attempt to help Ukraine contain the pro-Russian rebels, a delegation from the Ukrainian parliament is in Washington asking for weapons.
Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian parliament Andriy Parubiy met with Republican Sen. John McCain, the leading proponent of sending American weapons to Ukraine, on Tuesday and laid out what the Ukrainian military needs to succesfully fight pro-Russian rebels in East Ukraine.
"Some of the weapons are non-lethal. For example, radars and UAVs [drones], radio communications and interference suppression devices,” said Paruiby during a Ukrainian Voice of America broadcast. “The lethal weapons include, primarily, anti-missile systems, including Javelin [anti-tank missiles]," Parubiy said.
Parubiy said that the list had already been shown to President Barack Obama and would be shown to other officials "directly involved in the decision-making process."
“The position of the United States will be decisive. After the United States, I'm confident many leaders of the European countries, Canada, will support this initiative and will more actively assist Ukraine," he added.
British prime minister David Cameron said in parliament Tuesday that the UK military would send advisors to help train the Ukrainian military, although he too stopped short of saying Britain would send weapons.
Reports are emerging from the front that Russian-backed rebels have begun to withdraw heavy weapons from the front 10 days after the ceasefire went into force on Feb. 15. Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters Wednesday that the Ukrainian military was not ready to do the same.
"For now there is still no order on the withdrawal of weapons, as the [rebel] fighters have not yet fulfilled the first point of the Minsk agreement, to cease fire," said Lysenko, who also said that ceasefire violations had “significantly decreased” over the last two days. No fighting was noted in Donetsk, Luhansk and Mariupol, the areas where shelling and shooting have continued after the ceasefire signed in Minsk went into effect.
The 10-month old conflict has killed so far about 5,800 people according to the United Nations.