Access agreed for OSCE monitors in Ukraine: Berlin
BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
Ukrainian armed forces take their position near Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine February 16, 2015. REUTERS PhotoThe leaders of Russia, Germany and Ukraine have agreed on "concrete measures" to allow OSCE observers to monitor the shaky ceasefire in Ukraine, Berlin announced on Feb. 17.
The measures were agreed during a late Monday phone call between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Russian and Ukrainian counterparts, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko, the government spokesman said in a statement, without providing details of the agreed steps.
The agreement is aimed at allowing observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) "to monitor the situation on the ground" around the strategic railway hub of Debaltseve, the statement said.
Fighting around Debaltseve has continued despite a ceasefire that went into effect over the weekend aimed at stopping the war in the east of the ex-Soviet country.
With clashes around the town still raging, preventing OSCE monitors from accessing the area, both sides said conditions were not met to start withdrawing weapons from the frontline.
Fighting between pro-Moscow rebels and Kiev government troops has killed more than 5,600 people since first erupting in April.
Kyiv and the West accuse Russian of fomenting the unrest by pouring troops and weapons into the country, charges that Moscow denies.
Europe and the US have dismissed Putin's denials of having a hand in Ukraine's eastern insurrection, noting that he made similar claims over Ukraine's Crimea peninsula before finally admitting he had ordered in Russian troops there ahead of annexing the territory last year.