MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2018
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U.S., Russia disagree on UN peacekeepers
Journal Staff Report

KYIV, Nov. 14 - U.S. and Russian envoys have "different concepts for how to make peace" in eastern Ukraine, but will continue to work to achieve that goal, RFE/RL reported.

U.S. special envoy Kurt Volker and Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov in a statement after their meeting in Belgrade earlier Tuesday had failed to bring any results.

"Both sides agreed to reflect on the discussions...and to think about further ways to address this challenge," said a joint statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

It said the meeting included a "thorough discussion of the current diplomatic state of play concerning efforts to end the war" between Kyiv's forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Volker had indicated before the meeting that it would focus on the possibility of an international peacekeeping force being deployed in the parts of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions that are held by Russia-backed separatists.

After the meeting, Surkov said that the U.S. side presented 29 paragraphs containing its proposals on a Russian plan for peacekeepers, Russian news agencies reported.

"Our delegation came to the conclusion that three of them were acceptable," Surkov said, adding that the parties decided to continue the work to bring their positions closer.

Discussions about deploying a peacekeeping force have heated up since September, when Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed deploying UN peacekeepers along the line separating Ukrainian government forces and the Russia-backed separatists.

The plan swiftly drew criticism from both Kyiv and the West, largely because of concerns that deployment only along the front line would cement Russian control over separatist-held territory and do nothing to stop Russia from sending fighters and weapons into Ukraine. Putin later said he was open to adjustments to his initial proposal, but no agreement has been reached.

Fighting between Kyiv government forces and Russia-backed separatists who hold parts of Ukraines Donetsk and Luhansk regions has killed more than 10,000 people since April 2014. Several cease-fire deals announced as part of the Minsk accords -- September 2014 and February 2015 pacts aimed to resolve the conflict -- have reduced fighting but not stopped it.

"There has always been a need for a combination of political and security measures to be taken under Minsk," the statement by Volker and Surkov said. "Both sides agreed to reflect on the discussions today and to think about further ways to address this challenge." (rfe/ez)

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