Access agreed for OSCE monitors in Ukraine: Berlin
The leaders of Russia, Germany and Ukraine have agreed on "concrete measures" to allow OSCE observers to monitor the shaky ceasefire in Ukraine, Berlin announced on Tuesday.
The measures were agreed during a late Monday phone call between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Russian and Ukrainian counterparts, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko, the government spokesman said in a statement, without providing details of the agreed steps.
The agreement is aimed at allowing observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) "to monitor the situation on the ground" around the strategic railway hub of Debaltseve, the statement said.
A Kremlin statement said only that the trio "talked about the role of the OSCE monitoring mission at this stage in the conflict."
It said they also discussed "the problems with the ceasefire," the withdrawal of heavy weapons and the "situation in the area of Debaltseve."
Fighting around Debaltseve has continued despite a ceasefire that went into effect over the weekend aimed at stopping the war in the east of the ex-Soviet country.
With clashes around the town still raging, preventing OSCE monitors from accessing the area, both sides said conditions were not met to start withdrawing weapons from the frontline.
Fighting between pro-Moscow rebels and Kiev government troops has killed more than 5,600 people since first erupting in April.
Kiev and the West accuse Russian of fomenting the unrest by pouring troops and weapons into the country, charges that Moscow denies.
Europe and the US have dismissed Putin's denials of having a hand in Ukraine's eastern insurrection, noting that he made similar claims over Ukraine's Crimea peninsula before finally admitting he had ordered in Russian troops there ahead of annexing the territory last year.
© 2015 AFP