The UN Security Council is preparing to hear from ceasefire monitors on the uneasy truce in Ukraine. The meeting follows two days without fatalities in the conflict-ridden east of the country.
Diplomats at the United Nations said the Security Council would hold an emergency session on Friday concerning the ceasefire deal between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian rebels, French news agency AFP reported. The meeting is being held at the request of France and Germany, who helped broker the truce signed in Minsk earlier this month.
The council will hear reports from representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), who have been overseeing the ceasefire, which got off to a rocky start but has now seen two straight days of zero fatalities and reports from both sides that they were pulling their heavy weapons back from the front.
While the OSCE monitors reported seeing some big guns withdrawing from rebel lines, they accused the warring sides of not providing all the information needed to determine what, if any, arms withdrawals have occurred.
Russia and West trade barbs
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised the dramatic decrease in violence, but simultaneously called on Moscow to move its weapons out of Ukraine.
"Russia has transferred in recent months over 1,000 pieces of equipment - tanks, artillery and advanced air defense systems" to the separatists, Stoltenberg charged. The rebels insist, however, that they have already pulled back a major part of their artillery from certain areas.
Moscow had accusations of its own ahead of the UN meeting, namely that the West is not interested in the success of the truce agreement.
"Behind these calls lies the unwillingness of…the United States, the European Union, to seek the implementation of what was agreed," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russia has countered increased momentum for new sanctions from the West by threatening to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine and thus by extension parts of the EU. The threat prompted the EU to invite both the Russian and Ukrainian energy ministers to Brussels on Monday to try to resolve the dispute.
es/bk (AP, AFP)