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    (File) Ukrainian nationalist protesters and military veterans take part in a blockade against ongoing trade with the Donbass self-proclaimed republics, on February 23, 2017, in Kryvyi Torets railway station, Donetsk region

    Germany Skeptical About US Plans to Provide Ukraine With Lethal Arms

    © AFP 2018 / Aleksey FILIPPOV
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    KIEV (Sputnik) - Germany views with skepticism the idea that arms supplies to Ukraine may promote peace settlement in Donbass, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Wednesday.

    "There are a lot of arms in this region [Donbas]… We in Germany are rather skeptical about the fact that arms supplies will help to resolve the conflict, but we are far enough from this conflict… Ukraine sees this in a different way, from the defense point of view," Gabriel said in Kiev as quoted by Unian news agency.

    In December 2017, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that Washington planned to give Ukraine military assistance to help protect its territorial integrity, in a move that is purely defensive and will not violate Minsk agreements. US media suggested, citing officials, that Washington planned to sell lethal arms, including anti-tank Javelin missiles, to Ukraine.

    Moscow has repeatedly warned against supplies of lethal arms to Ukraine saying that this would result in escalation of the military conflict in Donbas. This stance has also been supported by a number of European officials.

    Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister said that "a UN mission could be a real chance" to uphold a ceasefire, "however, it would have to help preserve the territorial unity of Ukraine."

    "It must be an armed and strong UN peacekeeping mission deployed across the entire occupied territory. It should not only protect OSCE representative and stay only on the line of contact, otherwise it will be a new border," Gabriel said at a televised briefing in Kiev.

    Sigmar Gabriel assured that Germany, together with France and other partners in the UN Security Council will work to "deploy a real peacekeeping mission."

    Moreover, German Foreign Minister expressed hope on Wednesday that the United Nations would make a decision on peacekeepers in Donbas before the upcoming presidential election in Russia, scheduled for March 18.

    "I would like for the ensuring of a reliable ceasefire to not be dependent on the election in Russia and I hope that we will be able to adopt a realistic and befitting mandate for the UN mission before the election in Russia," Gabriel said, as quoted by the UNIAN news agency.

    According to the foreign minister, the restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity was a necessary prerequisite.

    In early September 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his support for the idea of sending UN peacekeepers to Donbas but insisted that the mission should be deployed solely to protect OSCE staff along the contact line separating self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk self-proclaimed republics and Ukrainian government-controlled territory. However, Kiev wants UN peacekeeping mission to be stationed across the entire conflict-ridden Donbas region, up to the Russian border.

    In November 2017, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said that Ukraine, the United States, Germany and France had developed a joint draft UN resolution on Donbass peacekeepers.

    The military conflict in Ukraine has been ongoing since 2014. The Ukrainian authorities launched a military campaign against self-proclaimed republics in the southeast after they refused to recognize the new government in Kiev, which had come to power in what they perceive to have been a coup.

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    Tags:
    crisis, peacekeepers, aid, conflict, weapons, Sigmar Gabriel, Donbass, Ukraine
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