Hollande, Merkel call Putin to abide by Minsk Protocol

France and Germany urge Russia to implement ceasefire measures agreed in Minsk considering eastern Ukraine separatist regions where fragile peace accord being gradually violated

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The leaders of France and Germany have called Russia to rapidly implement ceasefire deal sealed in Minsk last February, the French Presidential office announced in a statement on Friday.  

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday afternoon and told him to abide by the Minsk ceasefire with some concrete results under the supervision of Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) envoy, the statement said.

Russian side also denounced that Putin has been concerned with the "increasingly frequent shelling by Ukrainian forces of civilian objects that have led to civilian casualties," according to the Kremlin statement.

The Kremlin said trilateral phone call meeting aimed to maintain opinion exchanges in order to de-escalate the crisis and ensure strict observation of the ceasefire regime in southeastern Ukraine.

"The crisis situation in Ukraine was discussed in the context of the necessity to implement by southeast conflict participants of all items of the Package of Measures agreed in Minsk on Feb. 12 this year." Russian Tass agency quoted the Kremlin statement.

"It was noted that rigorous implementation of the agreements on withdrawal of heavy armaments under OSCE supervision and establishment of demilitarized zones at the contact line is important," the statement added.

On their part, the two Western leaders wanted Russia to back the ceasefire process by encouraging of withdrawing heavy artillery, releasing war prisoners and restoring economic relations between Kiev and the pro-Russian separatists.

Officials and diplomats from four countries as well as OSCE envoy will meet on June 10 in Paris to review the progress in Minsk Protocol, the French Presidential statement said.

Ukraine’s separatist war calmed down when the OSCE-mediated ceasefire was sealed in the Belarussian capital Minsk, but the fragile peace was sporadically violated by both Kiev forces and the pro-Russian separatists.

The Kiev government has vowed to protect its territorial integrity as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has been reiterating several times that they would take back the breakaway regions since the conflict erupted.  

Ukrainian leadership still suspects that whether Moscow abides by the agreed armistice in Minsk since violations have recently increased again in the Donbass region.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak said on Thursday Russia has been keeping its frontline forces in the east where Kiev army and pro-Russian separatists could resume conflicts soon despite the fragile ceasefire.

Russia denies such allegations and accusations claimed by Kiev and says that its soldiers have only been patrolling the porous borders with the eastern Ukraine.

Authorities in Ukraine have shown two Russian soldiers who were captured during a battle with the pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east on Sunday.

The capture of the soldiers comes just days after the release of a report published by the Russian opposition claiming at least 220 Russian soldiers were killed in the war in eastern Ukraine in the past year.

Last week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to pull back all troops and heavy artilleries from Ukraine as well as to stop supporting the pro-Russian separatists in the region.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced this month that the separatist war in the east had caused the death of 7,000 people so far while the UN has released the death toll in Ukraine’s one year of conflict as being 6,100 people.

TRTWorld and agencies