G7 leaders warn Russia they're watching Ukraine truce
The leaders of the world's most developed economies Thursday vowed to stand by Ukraine as its harsh winter looms, and warned Russia more sanctions could follow unless a ceasefire is implemented.
In a draft version of a statement to be issued later Thursday, G7 leaders will tell Moscow that a slew of crippling EU, US and Canadian sanctions can only be rolled back once all the terms of a truce agreed with Kiev are put into effect.
While they welcome a September 5 ceasefire deal and a later nine-point plan struck at the weekend in the Belarussian capital of Minsk as important steps forward, the G7 leaders warn Moscow that if the plans are not fully implemented then more sanctions could follow.
Russia must pull back its troops and equipment, secure the border and ensure all hostages held by pro-Russian separatists are released, the draft statement says.
The leaders also pledge to help Ukraine as it faces the oncoming winter and to rebuild the country's economy by working with financial institutions, according to the draft text obtained by AFP.
The five-month separatist uprising has killed more than 3,200 people and driven 650,000 from their homes.
A fragile European-brokered ceasefire sealed September 5 has dramatically scaled back the fighting across industrial eastern Ukraine. But deadly shelling and gunfire is reported almost daily around the flashpoint city of Donetsk.
The ex-Soviet country's worst crisis since its 1991 independence has also damaged East-West relations and stoked fears across eastern Europe of Russian territorial ambitions.
Ukraine's parliament last week backed President Petro Poroshenko's plan for rebel-held parts of the Russian-speaking east to hold local council elections December 7 that would help restore law and order, but not pursue any independence claims.
However, guerrillas brushed off the offer and announced plans to set up their own parliaments in self-organized November 2 polls.
Poroshenko said Thursday he hoped neither Russia nor the rest of the international community would recognize the legitimacy of the separatist vote.
And he added he hoped the "most dangerous" part of the crisis was over.
© 2014 AFP