Lithuania pushes UN to consider peacekeepers for Ukraine
Lithuania's UN envoy on Thursday said the Security Council should consider Ukraine's appeal for a UN force, in response to what she termed ceasefire violations by Russia and separatist forces in the east.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called for peacekeepers to be deployed after the strategic town of Debaltseve fell to pro-Russian rebels, less than a week after a ceasefire was agreed between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany.
"The proposal of the president of Ukraine to initiate talks on a peacekeeping mission deserves thorough consideration," said Lithuanian Ambassador and council member Raimonda Murmokaite.
"Following the violations by Russia and separatist forces of the Minsk ceasefire agreements in Debaltseve these past few days, it is only natural that Ukraine should appeal to the Security Council to consider further steps."
Lithuania has been one of the strongest voices on Ukraine at the Security Council, which on Tuesday endorsed the Minsk ceasefire deal.
Ukraine's national security council decided on Wednesday to request a UN peace force to monitor the frontline between the rebels and Ukrainian forces and also Ukraine's border with Russia.
Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of supplying weapons and sending troops to east Ukraine, a claim that Moscow has denied.
Poroshenko suggested that a UN-mandated police force from the European Union would be well-suited for the task and said parliament in Kiev would be asked to approve the decision.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said no request had been received from Kiev and recalled that the decision on authorizing such a force would lie with the Security Council.
"The first and most important step is for the ceasefire to be observed and for the fighting to stop," he said.
Britain did not reject Ukraine's call, but stressed that European monitors from the OSCE should be given access to areas in east Ukraine that have come under attack.
"We are open to ideas, but all parties need to remain focused on implementing their Minsk commitments and ensuring safe and unhindered access for the OSCE to carry out their mandate," said a spokesperson for the British mission at the UN.
More than 5,600 people have been killed and close to one million displaced during 10 months of conflict in east Ukraine.
© 2015 AFP