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Ukraine crisis: Russian truce monitors to leave


Ukraine’s government soldiers (pictured) face heavily armed pro-Russian rebels

In what appears to be a wholly manufactured ‘crisis’ by Russia, they are withdrawing from a joint Ukraine-Russia truce monitoring center, for what that is worth.  Both Russia and Ukraine routinely accuse the other side of gross violations of the treaty. Russia most certainly violated the treaty before the ink was even dry on the Minsk agreement, with an offensive to secure Debaltseve. 

Russia’s foreign ministry accused Ukraine of preventing the officers from carrying out their duties, saying they would leave on Tuesday.

Here is the Russian statement, in full, from the Russian MFA website, translated from Russian (by my Chrome browser).

Russian MFA Information and Press Department Commentary Regarding the Situation around STCC in Ukraine

2448-18-12-2017 

In September 2014, the Joint Center for Control and Coordination of the Ceasefire and Stabilization of the Contact Line of the Parties (SCCC), launched to assist the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, began its work in the south-east of Ukraine. The center was established at the request of the Ukrainian side and in accordance with the agreements at the level of the Presidents of Russia and Ukraine. The SCCC consists of representatives of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (75 officers, who change every three months). At the initial stage, it included representatives of the proclaimed republics of Donbass.

Since its inception, SCCC has become one of the most important settlement mechanisms in the southeast of Ukraine, playing a significant role in monitoring the situation and assisting in resolving disputes in the zone of delineation of parties in the Donbass. Our officers made a significant contribution to the stabilization of the situation in the region, provided practical assistance to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. The SCCC’s activities are generally positively assessed by all international partners involved in the search for a solution to the Ukrainian crisis.

At the same time, SCCC, unfortunately, faced serious difficulties due to the position of the Ukrainian authorities. So, Kiev categorically objected to any documentary regulation of the functioning of the SCCC. Attempts to resolve this issue at the bilateral level, either at the Minsk Contact Group site, or in the “Norman format” were not successful.

Moreover, in violation of the agreements of the Presidents of the Russian Federation and Ukraine regarding the creation and deployment of the SCCC, the Ukrainian side deliberately created for the members of our military personnel a tense moral and psychological situation, and obstructed their performance of their official duties. In particular, Russian officers were restricted to access to the contact line, to check the performance of the service at joint observation posts deployed in the territory under Ukraine’s control. It came down to prohibitions on communication with the local population. There have been cases of disrespectful attitude of Ukrainian servicemen towards their Russian counterparts.

In addition, from January 1, 2018, Kiev plans to introduce a new procedure for the entry and stay of Russian citizens on its territory, according to which they will have to provide their detailed personal data in advance to the Ukrainian authorities. This norm does not correspond to the provisions of the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Ukraine on visa-free travel of citizens of the Russian Federation and Ukrainian citizens on January 16, 1997 and is unacceptable for Russian servicemen.

In contacts with representatives of Ukraine, including in the “Norman format” and within the Minsk Contact Group, we insisted on the need to regulate this issue without prejudice to Russian participation in the SCCC. However, all of our appeals were ignored by the Ukrainian side.

In such conditions, the further work of the representative office of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the SCCC was made impossible. On December 19, 2017, Russian officers entering the Center will leave the territory of Ukraine.

We have already informed our foreign partners about this forced step, stressing that all responsibility for possible consequences lies entirely with the Ukrainian side.

Source: http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2993360

Most of the Russian statement appears to be balderdash.

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18 December 2017

Russia is to withdraw its military officers from a joint Russia-Ukraine centre monitoring a fragile truce in the conflict-torn eastern Ukraine.

Russia’s foreign ministry accused Ukraine of preventing the officers from carrying out their duties, saying they would leave on Tuesday.

Kiev said the move was a “provocation”, seriously undermining deals to end the conflict with Russian-backed rebels.

It said three Ukrainian soldiers were killed by rebel shelling on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the separatists accused Ukraine’s military of firing hundreds of shells on the rebel-held areas over the past 24 hours. They reported no casualties.

The UN says more than 10,000 people have died in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions since the conflict erupted in April 2014, soon after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

In a statement (in Russian), the Russian foreign ministry accused the Ukrainian side of the joint centre of “creating a tense moral and psychological” situation for the Russian officers.

It also cited restrictions on visiting the line of division and bans on contacts with the local population.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry responded, saying in a statement (in Ukrainian): “We consider this unprecedented step by Russia as a new provocation which considerably undermines the Minsk agreements”, referring to the Western-brokered deals to end the conflict.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military warned that Russia’s decision to pull out its officers could further escalate the conflict.

“The enemy may resort to aggressive offensive actions along the entire line of division,” it said in a statement (in Ukrainian). citing information from the country’s intelligence officers.

The joint Russia-Ukraine centre was set up in September 2014 to monitor compliance with the ceasefire regime.

Ukraine and Western nations accuse Russia of helping the rebels with regular troops and heavy weapons.

The Kremlin denies that, while admitting that Russian “volunteers” are helping the separatists.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42402390

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