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Berlin calls for peacekeeper mandate in Ukraine

January 3, 2018

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said Berlin wants to agree on a UN peacekeeping mandate before Russia's election in March. Gabriel was also critical of the US decision to supply Kyiv with anti-tank missiles.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Ukraine Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin in Kyiv
Image: picture-alliance/photothek.net/I. Kjer

Germany is pushing to secure a United Nations peacekeeping mission to eastern Ukraine within the first months of 2018, Germany's top diplomat said on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters in Kyiv that an "armed and robust UN peacekeeping mission" to secure a ceasefire across all of conflict-torn eastern Ukraine would be a "reasonable solution."

Gabriel said he hopes a mandate will be adopted before by Russia's presidential elections.

"The establishment of a firm peace settlement should not depend on elections in Russia," he told reporters after talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin.

Read moreGermany's Angela Merkel warns 'no alternative' to peace in eastern Ukraine

Gabriel rejects Putin's deployment plan

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is expected to win a fourth term in the March 18 vote, last year suggested deploying UN peacekeepers only along the front line and not in other rebel-held areas.

Although Gabriel welcomed a UN peacekeeping mission, he rejected Putin's suggested limits on the deployment's area of activity.

Such deployment rules "would make today's contact line a de facto border," Gabriel said. He added that the UN mission "must not stand in the way of restoring Ukraine's territorial integrity."

Read moreOpinion — Putin is here to stay, as are tensions with the West

Critical of US weapons

Gabriel's Ukraine visit came amidst Washington's decision to send a supply of powerful US anti-tank missiles to Ukraine for the first time.

"These weapons can and will be used in case of a provocation by Russia," Klimkin told reporters. "But as you well understand, they will not be used for offensive purposes."

Read moreNATO chief predicts increased dialogue with Russia in 2018

Gabriel said Berlin views the weapons delivery, which angered Moscow, with skepticism.

"My impression is that if there's one thing in this region that there is too much of, it's weapons," Gabriel said.

Gabriel and Klimkin will travel to eastern Ukraine on Thursday and visit the Donetsk region, an area near the demarcation line between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian insurgents.

The UN estimates that over 10,300 have been killed since the conflict broke out in 2014.

Growing up in a war zone

rs/sms (AFP, dpa)