Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko urged the United Nations on Wednesday to deploy its peacekeepers to monitor a ceasefire between government forces and pro-Russia rebels in the country's east. The latest move came hours after Ukraine pulled thousands of troops out of the town of Debaltseve, a major transport hub.
“The best format for us is a police mission of the EU,” Reuters quoted Poroshenko as saying. “It will be the most efficient guarantor of security in the situation when the word of peace is not observed either by Russia or by those who are supported by it.”
In recent weeks, Debaltseve has come under fierce attack from separatist forces, who claim that the ceasefire -- negotiated by Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France at a summit in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, last week -- was not applicable to the strategically important town, which lies near the Donetsk-Luhansk border.
Meanwhile, rebels of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said Thursday that they would back Kiev's request to the U.N. to send peacekeepers into the conflict-torn region.
“In regard to peacekeepers … from the very beginning, when this whole conflict began, we suggested the Russian Federation and all the other countries that are included in the UN Security Council to consider the issue of sending peacekeepers then,” Russia’s Ria Novosti quoted Eduard Basurin, a defense official for the Donetsk rebels, as saying. “We were refused then. If they want to send them, then we’re not against it, let them send them.”
Denis Pushilin, a senior separatist leader, had previously told Ria Novosti that the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers on Ukraine's eastern border with Russia could violate the Minsk ceasefire deal.
Despite the diplomatic efforts to resolve the worsening Ukrainian crisis, fighting between government forces and the rebels still continues in the region, with Kiev claiming Thursday that at least 14 Ukrainian servicemen were killed and 173 wounded in the past 24 hours, Reuters reported.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine might become "chronic," Oleksandr Turchynov, the head of Ukraine’s national security council, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying. “Peacekeepers will ensure taking the first real step toward resolving this tragedy, which was initiated and is supported by Russia.”