The Russian Embassy here on Friday welcomed “India’s balanced, principled and independent approach” in response to India’s statement at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) welcoming the implementation of the Minsk agreements which, it said, provided a basis for a “negotiated and peaceful settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine.” Any steps that ‘‘increase tension may best be avoided by all sides”, it stated.
Ukraine has accused Russia of ceasefire violations in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and using weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements. It stated that their armed forces “strictly adhere to the Minsk agreements and norms of international humanitarian law”.
Speaking at the UNSC on the implementation of the Minsk agreements on Ukraine, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations T.S. Tirumurti said, “The well-being of Indian nationals is of priority to us.” Welcoming the efforts under way for the implementation of the “Minsk agreements”, including through the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) and under the Normandy format, he urged all parties to continue to engage through all possible diplomatic channels and keep working towards the full implementation of the agreements.
“Any steps that increase tension may best be avoided by all sides in the larger interest of securing international peace and security. Quiet and constructive diplomacy is the need of the hour,” he stated. “This issue can only be resolved through diplomatic dialogue.”
Actions purely defensive: Ukraine military
Blaming Russia for the situation in the “temporarily occupied territories”, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukraine armed forces Lt. Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny said in a statement, “The armed forces of Ukraine strictly adhere to the Minsk agreements and norms of international humanitarian law, do not plan any offensive operations or shelling of civilians. Our actions are purely defensive.”
According to the information coming from the two regions, evacuation of the local population was planned in some areas, in particular in Donetsk, due to possible “aggravation” of the situation. Any damage that may be done to people or infrastructure in the regions was a “provocation”, the statement noted.
Violations of ceasefire
As of 7 p.m. Thursday, 47 violations of ceasefire by the “Russian occupation forces” have been recorded, 38 of which involved weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements, he said, adding that gross violations of the agreements have taken place and must be investigated. This would allow to take more effective action in future to maintain the ceasefire, Lt. Gen. Zaluzhny added.
In this regard, the Ukrainian delegation to the TCG requested the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Coordinator in the grouping to convene an “extraordinary meeting” of the Security Working Group as a matter of “urgency”, followed by a TCG meeting on ceasefire violations of February 17.
The TCG on Ukraine consists of representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE. The OSCE is a grouping of 57 European countries in which participating States enjoy equal status, and decisions are taken by “consensus on a politically, but not legally binding basis.”