4 July 2014, 00:05

Merkel and Obama ask Moscow to cooperate in securing ceasefire in Ukraine

Merkel and Obama ask Moscow to cooperate in securing ceasefire in Ukraine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama on Thursday asked President Vladimir Putin to assist in securing a ceasefire in Ukraine, Merkel's office said. Merkel and Obama stressed during three-way telephone talks "the importance of a rapid ceasefire observed by both sides," said a statement. 

"The common goal is to stabilize the situation, which will make it possible for Ukraine to decide which path to take by democratic means," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said, reports Itar-Tass.

Kiev's military operation against federalization supporters in Ukraine's embattled southeastern regions bordering Russia, conducted since mid-April, which involves armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation, has killed hundreds of people, destroyed buildings and forced tens of thousands to flee Ukraine to Russia.

Fierce military attacks of the pro-Kiev forces on the country's Southeast resumed after President Petr Poroshenko, who had won the May 25 early election and taken office on June 7, terminated the 10-day ceasefire in the Southeast on June 30. When the truce was in place, there were reports that it was repeatedly violated by Kiev.

Resolving Ukraine's political problems through killing citizens unacceptable in civilized society - Moscow

Moscow has demanded that Kiev stop shelling cities and villages in southeastern Ukraine and reinstate a ceasefire. "We are once again strongly demanding that the Ukrainian authorities, if they are still able to sensibly assess the consequences of their criminal policy, stop shelling peaceful cities and villages in their own country and reinstate a real ceasefire so as to spare people's lives," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a commentary available on its website on Wednesday.

"Resolving Ukraine's political problems through physically exterminating citizens of their own country hardly meets the standards of civilized European society, which Kiev is aspiring to today," it said.

The Foreign Ministry also condemned the Ukrainian leadership's claims on a "humane" application of the armed forces in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as "hypocritical."

Truce in eastern Ukraine shouldn't imply 'disarm or be destroyed' - Lavrov

Russia considers it damaging that the Ukrainian truce is being used for regrouping forces and disarming or killing the militia. "If a truce is used solely for re-grouping the troops of either side and to implement those parts of the Ukrainian president's plan with respect to which we expressed serious doubts, namely telling the militia to either disarm or be destroyed - I categorically reject that path and consider it harmful to the neighboring fraternal country," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Moscow hopes external actors will persuade Kiev to sit at the negotiating table with militiamen, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"We are very hopeful that relevant signals will be also be sent to the Ukrainian government, given the close ties between other groups of external actors and the authorities in Kiev," he told a press conference after talks with his counterparts from Germany, France and Ukraine in Berlin on Wednesday.

"We believe that everyone here must act in unison and urge all those who now oppose one another in Ukraine to start a dialogue," the minister added.

At the same Lavrov noted that Moscow "has certain possibilities to be able to influence those who protect their houses, their relatives, their families, their soil and want their rights be recognized and respected in the Ukrainian state".

"We have many times called, and continue to call, on all those involved in the standoff to get down to the negotiating table and solve issues through dialog. We do this publically. We call once again, in public, for this in the declaration that we agreed on together with our Ukrainian, German and French counterparts," he said.

"By the way representatives of the militia, in particular (prime minister of the Donetsk People's Republic) Mr. Borodai has stated publically today that in response to these calls on behalf of Russia and the OSCE they are ready for consultations on how to agree on peace terms," Lavrov added.

Members of the OSCE mission in Ukraine must monitor compliance with the new truce in the country's southeast after an agreement was reached to that effect, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"Under the document, the ceasefire, once agreed upon, will be monitored by the OSCE mission which is already operating in Ukraine," Lavrov said after a meeting with his German, French and Ukrainian counterparts in Berlin on Wednesday.

"We hope this mission will monitor compliance with the ceasefire and register breaches by both sides, because until now, the previous declaration of a ceasefire has been effected by breaches on both sides," the minister added.

Russian, German, French and Ukrainian foreign ministers, at a meeting on Wednesday, called for setting up a contact group as soon as possible to agree terms for a new ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"We were able today to agree a declaration, thereby fulfilling a task from our leaders, and we can report that this task has been carried out. The main point of that document is the need to urgently agree terms for a sustained, lasting truce," Lavrov told reporters after the meeting, held in Berlin.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday reaffirmed that Russia is willing to have Ukrainian border guards and monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe posted on its border with Ukraine.

Merkel regrets ceasefire in Ukraine ended, hopes to find diplomatic solution to crisis

"Of course, all this would be in effect for the ceasefire period. All this will become possible only after a ceasefire is agreed and declared," Lavrov stated. He thanked the other three ministers for supporting the Russian initiative.

"We propose doing so via the earliest possible convocation of a contact group, which, we hope, will meet within days and agree the terms for a truce that will satisfy all sides," he said.

Sergei Lavrov is convinced that a ceasefire in Ukraine can only be negotiated under the terms of a Contact Group.

"It is clear that when we say that a ceasefire needs negotiating, this can only be done in a format that represents both sides in the conflict and I am very hopeful it will help achieve the result that we all want, to which we are all working," Lavrov said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after the four-party ministerial meeting in Berlin on Wednesday that the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia have managed to work out a number of measures to achieve a truce in east Ukraine.

"At today's talks the parties managed to agree a package of measures which cumulatively will lead to a reliable mutual truce in east Ukraine," the German minister said.

The foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine backed the idea of sending Ukrainian border guards and OSCE observers to Russian checkpoints, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, Interfax reports.

The contact group on Ukraine will continue negotiations during this week, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Wednesday. The ministers who have assembled here have backed the decision to return to the contact group's negotiations which should be held before July 5, he said.

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