UN chief, Ukrainian president meet on conflict in eastern Ukraine

UN chief, Ukrainian president meet on conflict in eastern Ukraine

UNITED NATIONS (Rahnuma) :UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko have met on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, a UN spokesperson said Thursday.

During their meeting on Wednesday, the two leaders discussed “the latest developments concerning the conflict in eastern Ukraine and in the areas of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov,” Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson, said in a statement.

Guterres reiterated the UN’s strong support for the ongoing efforts of international actors to find a peaceful settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and underlined the UN’s commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Also on Wednesday, at a UN General Assembly meeting, Ukraine and Russia clashed over border issues following remarks by Poroshenko that a full-scale war along the Russian border with Ukraine is “not an unrealistic prospect.”

“There is no so-called ‘crisis in Ukraine’ nor ‘internal conflict in Ukraine,’ but an ongoing military occupation and armed aggression by Russia against Ukraine,” said Poroshenko.

According to Poroshenko, by February 2019 Russia has deployed up to 32.5 thousand military personnel in Crimea, and in Donbas, Russian armed formations have 496 tanks. The number of the Russian armed forces along the Russian-Ukrainian border is over 87,000 personnel.

Russia denounced Ukraine’s claim. Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said that Poroshenko has failed to keep his promise of ending the conflict in Donbas, and he has become “the president of war, which continues to this day.”

The Russian envoy also said that there are no regular Russian forces in the eastern part of Ukraine.

In 2014, Russia incorporated Crimea, previously part of Ukraine, following a referendum in the peninsula, which was recognized by Moscow but rejected by Kiev and Western powers.

Relations between two countries have worsened since the referendum. While Ukraine said the peninsula was illegally annexed by Russia, Ukraine, the United States and some European countries accused Russia of arming and encouraging insurgents in eastern Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly denied the charges.

In later deteriorating developments, Russian forces seized three Ukrainian naval ships as well as 24 sailors on board attempting to sail through the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov in November 2018.

Moscow accused them of illegally crossing the Russian border, which Kiev denied and urged Moscow to release the captured sailors.

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