Europe

Ukraine crisis: Nato top general says truce 'in name only'

  • 21 September 2014
  • From the section Europe
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Media captionGeneral Philip Breedlove: "The situation in Ukraine is not good right now...We have a ceasefire in name only"

Nato's most senior military commander has said the ceasefire between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists currently exists "in name only".

Gen Philip Breedlove said the numbers of artillery rounds fired recently was comparable to periods before the truce came into effect two weeks ago.

He added, however, that he was "hopeful" about a new agreement signed in the early hours of Saturday.

Ukraine accuses Russia of arming separatists, but Russia denies this.

More than 3,000 people have died in fighting in two eastern regions since April.

A truce was agreed on 5 September but there have been repeated violations since then.

Russian return

Gen Breedlove, Nato's supreme allied commander in Europe, was speaking after a meeting with Nato military chiefs in Vilnius, Lithuania.

"The situation in Ukraine is not good right now," he told reporters.

"The number of events, and the number of rounds fired and the artillery used across the past few days match some of the pre-ceasefire levels. The ceasefire is still there in name, but what is happening on the ground is quite a different story," he added.

He said that since last week, some Russian forces inside Ukraine had returned to Russia but remained available to "bring their military force to bear on Ukraine".

Nato has plans to bolster its military presence in countries bordering Russia, including the Baltic states, which used to be part of the Soviet bloc.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The new agreement seeks to stop the repeated violations of a ceasefire agreed on 5 September
Image copyright AP
Image caption Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma (c) presented the ceasefire plan after late-night talks

Gen Breedlove praised a new nine-point ceasefire memorandum which was signed in Minsk on Saturday morning.

The deal was reached after late-night talks between representatives of Ukraine, Russia, eastern separatists and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The agreement includes setting up a 30km (19-mile) buffer zone, a ban on overflights of part of eastern Ukraine by military aircraft and the withdrawal of "foreign mercenaries" on both sides.

Moscow has repeatedly denied sending Russian troops to Ukraine or arming Ukrainian separatists.

The Russian government says that any Russians fighting inside Ukraine are doing so in a private capacity.


Minsk memorandum: Key points

  • To pull heavy weaponry 15km back each side of the line of contact, creating a 30km security zone
  • To ban offensive operations
  • To ban flights by combat aircraft over the security zone
  • To set up an OSCE monitoring mission
  • To withdraw all foreign mercenaries from the conflict zone

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