Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called for urgent ceasefire negotiations with pro-Russia forces in a bid to bring an end to surging clashes in the country’s war-torn east.
Poroshenko stated on Thursday that new talks in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk should lead to “an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of contact” recognized in a September truce deal, which has been repeatedly violated.
Shortly after Poroshenko’s remarks, Belarusian Foreign Ministry announced that a new round of Ukrainian peace talks involving the two sides of the conflict and overseen by European and Russian representatives would be held in Minsk on Friday.
“The Contact Group on Ukraine has informed the Belarusian side of its intention to hold its next meeting in Minsk on January 30,” said the Foreign Ministry in a statement.
The Ukrainian president further said the talks should establish a stronger presence by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) along the Russia-Ukraine border in a bid to ensure that no armaments or reinforcements reach the pro-Russia forces from the east.
Russia, however, has reportedly denied supporting the militant forces in the east.
Meanwhile, Donetsk co-leader, Andrei Purgin, said his pro-independence region would dispatch a negotiator named, Denis Pushilin, to the Friday talks.
“If tomorrow’s meeting in Minsk does go ahead, then of course we will take part. But I would not bet on it because such meetings failed to materialize in the past,” Purgin added.
Two earlier Minsk ceasefire accords called for the establishment of a 30-kilometer buffer zone between the armies of the warring sides, allowing international monitors to oversee the implementation of the accords.
The last Minsk talks on December 24 failed to achieve any progress and was soon followed by new clashes.