|US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian FM Sergey Lavrov|
Situation in Eastern Ukraine, where the fights between Ukrainian Armed Forces and forces of the National Guard and the Russian soldiers and Russian backed terrorists are ongoing despite the recently achieved ceasefire in Minsk, remains tense and difficult. International community in its turn calls on Russia to make all the possible and necessary steps in order to deescalate the situation in Donbas region and to stop interfering in Ukrainian internal affairs.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov have met on Tuesday, 14 October, in Paris, France, two days ahead of the planned meeting of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin to be held in Milan, Italy.
Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lavrov have discussed many issues during their meeting including Ukrainian crisis and the necessity of its de-escalation and commitment to the terms of the ceasefire agreement and end of violence, withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian border and territories and stop supporting the pro-Russian terrorists and rebels and also the initiative of sharing the intelligence information on ISIS and the format of the US and Russian cooperation in the fight against the Islamist extremists of ISIS, capturing new territories in Syria and Iraq.
During their meeting Russian Foreign Minister has stated that Ukraine is doing not enough in deescalating the crisis and investigating the tragedies happened in Ukraine during this tense and hard period. Mr. Lavror also declared that more attention for these issues is needed and stated the necessity of giving more initiatives and responsibilities to some international bodies and organizations, such as OSCE and UN, monitoring these issues and bringing these investigations to an end. Mr. Lavrov also stated that the end of violence and diplomatic means are important in order to resolve the deepening crisis in Eastern Ukraine.
US State Secretary John Kerry in his turn declared that US demand Russia to totally withdraw its troops, technique and weapons from Ukrainian territory and the border-zones and to stop supporting, assisting and supplying the pro-Russian terrorists operating in the zone of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.
Mr. Kerry stated that Russia has to make several steps which are necessary for the dialogue and the possibility of lifting the Western sanctions imposed currently against Russia due to its aggression in Ukraine. Among those conditions and demands is release of all the hostages, release of all the military and political prisoners, pulling back of all the troops and withdrawal of all the heavy military technique and all the weapons from Ukrainian territories, pulling back the troops from the border zone and cooperation according to the Minsk ceasefire agreement, what is absolutely necessary in order to hold the ceasefire and to halt the violence and all the hostilities in the regions.
In addition to that the borders and the buffer zone on the border have to be secured and monitored by Ukrainian and Russian forces and by the international bodies.
Achieving the peace in the region is important as the numbers of casualties are extremely high including tens of thousands of people who appeared to be displaced and were forced to leave their homes and to become refugees. The situation looks also tense ahead of the upcoming early parliamentary elections to be held on 26 October. Though in the light of the announcements about some local elections and referendum to be held later in November on the territory of the occupied Donbas region by the rebels, US John Kerry declared that neither USA nor other countries-members of the international community will recognize these illegal elections and referendum in case they will be held. Russian Foreign Minister though disagreed.
Thus, nearly 17 000 of Russian troops and military equipment have been reportedly pulled back from the border zone as US John Kerry and Russian Sergey Lavrov had their meeting in Paris. Though there are the reports that some military equipment and heavy weapons still remain in the zone and have to be pulled back as soon as possible.
This step was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin just two days ahead of Milan summit to be held on 16-17 October, where Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian leader Vladimir Putin are expected to meet and to discuss the gas issue and the current situation in Eastern Ukraine as well. Presidential press-service of Mr. Poroshenko reported that the Presidents had a phone conversation on Tuesday, 14 October, and agreed the format and some details of their upcoming meeting in Milan and stated about the importance of the ceasefire and halting the violence in the region.
EU officials stated earlier that EU is ready to consider the issue of lifting or easing some sanctions imposed against Russia later this month in case Russia will demonstrate its total readiness and the real steps in order to deescalate the situation in Eastern Ukraine and to withdraw its troops.
Meanwhile the situation in Donbas region where an anti-terrorist operation launched by Ukrainian Armed Forces, National Guard and SBU (Security Forces) is ongoing, as the positions of Ukrainian soldiers and servicemen are under constant attacks of the Russian soldiers and the Russian backed rebels. Residential areas of numerous cities and villages in the neighborhood are also being shelled, leaving casualties among civilians as well.