The “withdrawals” of Russian and proxy forces in the Donbas are largely fake and designed to fool OSCE monitors, Ukrainian officials report. To stabilize the Donbas situation, Ukraine intends to formally request UN peacekeepers.
During an official visit to Vinnytsia, February 28, President Petro Poroshenko announced he would submit a bill at the next plenary session of the Verkhovna Rada asking the parliament to appeal to the UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council to send peacekeepers to Ukraine.
” I expect that on Tuesday, March 3, the bill that I introduce will go to parliament,” he said.
According to Poroshenko, the militants are carrying out “fake” withdrawals of heavy weapons from the contact line in the Donbas.
“We do not accept ‘fake’ withdrawals of heavy equipment and artillery that Russian TV has tried to demonstrate for us. They placed reporters and showed them the column that left one place. Then it moved down the road and came back. When the OSCE inspectors came to the location where the column should have arrived to make sure it had been withdrawn, they were barred from entering. When they were finally allowed to go in, there was already nobody there. This is not withdrawal,” Poroshenko concluded.
He also stated that the withdrawal of Ukrainian weapons and equipment would continue under the mandatory control of the OSCE. However, he noted that the planned increase of OSCE special monitoring missions in eastern Ukraine from 350 to 500 is inadequate.
“We had proposed that the number of missions be increased so that permanent OSCE observers could be placed at each one of the 11 identified points to ensure the monitoring of the ceasefire,” he said.
Despite the violations, Ukraine is adhering strictly to the Minsk agreements and demands that the Russian Federation and the terrorists it supports carry out their obligations as well, he emphasized. “The agreements must be honored, and if they are violated the guilty persons must be held accountable,” he said.
Poroshenko indicated that the (Ukrainian) military would be ready at any moment to promptly return military equipment to previous locations and if necessary to fight back. However, he said Ukraine must take advantage of even the smallest chance to move from the phase of military conflict to a state of political settlement.
However, the “enemy is not only destabilizing the situation in the Donbas but is also attempting to aggravate the situation in other regions,” he warned.
That view was seconded by ATO spokesman Andriy Lysenko at a briefing on Sunday, March 1, who announced that the terrorists are preparing for further offensives in the direction of Mariupol, Artemivsk and Luhansk. In order to mislead representatives of the OSCE mission, the terrorists are moving military equipment from the boundary line in the rear of the regions and then moving them back during the night, he said.