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Ukraine's peacekeeper call aims to destroy truce deal: Russia

AFP , Thursday 19 Feb 2015

Russia on Thursday said Ukraine's call for peacekeepers to enforce a largely shattered ceasefire deal was aimed at destroying the agreement.

Kiev called for the deployment of UN-mandated peacekeepers after pro-Russian rebels ignored a ceasefire deal reached in Minsk last week and launched a fierce assault on the eastern town of Debaltseve, forcing the withdrawal of Kiev troops from the strategic hub.

Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the call for peacekeepers, made by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, was aimed at destroying the Minsk accords.

"When someone, instead of doing what he has signed up to, suggests a new scheme and so soon, that raises suspicions that he wants to destroy the Minsk accords," he was quoted as saying by the state RIA Novosti news agency.

"If one proposes new schemes right away, the question arises if (the accords) will be respected."

Under the deal, Kiev troops and pro-Russian rebels were due to lay down their arms over the weekend and begin withdrawing heavy armour from the frontlines.

But the rebels ignored the truce to continue with a fierce assault on Debaltseve, a strategic railway hub sandwiched between the main rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.

The ceasefire was meant to be the first step towards quelling a conflict that has killed more than 5,600 people since erupting in April 2014, pitting pro-Russian rebels against Kiev government troops in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine and Western countries accuse Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula last March, of fomenting the violence by pouring in troops and heavy weapons across the border to back the insurgents, charges Moscow denies.

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