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UN envoy urges deescalation in Ukraine

AFP , Wednesday 5 Mar 2014
Russian soldiers guard a pier where two Ukrainian naval ships are moored, in Sevastopol, Ukraine, on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 (Photo: AP)

UN deputy secretary-general Jan Eliasson appealed Wednesday for dialogue and deescalation in the Ukraine crisis as he urged participants to refrain from Cold War reflexes.

Speaking to journalists after meeting members of the interim Ukrainian government in Kiev, Eliasson said it was "in everybody's interest" to find a settlement in Crimea, where pro-Moscow forces are in de facto control.

"I would hope that we have come to the end of the Cold War," Eliasson said as Russia pushes to maintain its influence over Ukraine, a former member of the Soviet Union.

"It isn't in the interest of anybody to reawaken these ghosts of the past."

Instead, he appealed for a "peaceful settlement" and for Russia and Ukraine to sort out their issues at the negotiating table.

"This is not a zero sum game where one wins and the other loses. The conflict in today's world is always a lose-lose game," said the Swedish diplomat.

"We hope that we wouldn't go the road of escalation but rather deescalation," he said, reiterating comments made by US President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

Eliasson added that a UN envoy on human rights, Ivan Simonovic, would travel to Crimea over the weekend to look into possible violations.

"We will do everything and get the truth out as much as we can when it comes to human rights violations and even possibly more serious crimes. That is our job," he said of the mission.

The Black Sea peninsula has come under near complete control by pro-Moscow forces although Russian President Vladimir Putin insists there are no Russian troops there.

Another UN envoy, Robert Serry, was already in Crimea on Wednesday to "take stock of the situation" and Eliasson said the UN was in close contact with the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The OSCE said Wednesday it was sending a mission of 35 unarmed military observers to Ukraine on an observation mission requested by the new pro-Western authorities in Kiev and set to last until March 12.

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