http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/nato-chief-backs-un-peacekeepers-across-east-ukraine/article/503034

NATO chief backs UN peacekeepers across east Ukraine

Posted Sep 21, 2017 by AFP
NATO's chief on Thursday backed sending UN peacekeepers to Ukraine but said the force should operate throughout the zone of violence which Western powers say is backed by Russia.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg supports putting UN peacekeepers in Ukraine but says they sh...
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg supports putting UN peacekeepers in Ukraine but says they should operate throughout the conflict-torn eastern zone
THIERRY CHARLIER, AFP/File

NATO's chief on Thursday backed sending UN peacekeepers to Ukraine but said the force should operate throughout the zone of violence which Western powers say is backed by Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia, which has proposed a limited UN mission.

"I welcome the proposal to have UN peacekeeping forces in Ukraine," the head of the Western military alliance told a group of reporters after his meeting.

Some 600 observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are on the ground in eastern Ukraine but have failed to stop the fighting that has killed 10,000 people since 2014.

Russia has drafted a UN resolution that would authorize lightly armed peacekeepers to protect the OSCE monitors along the demarcation line between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels.

Ukraine has submitted its own proposal that goes significantly further, deploying UN peacekeepers across the east of the country including on the border with Russia to prevent armed forces from entering.

"I welcome all the initiatives and also the Russia proposal to have some UN presence in eastern Ukraine," Stoltenberg said.

"But the important thing is that the UN presence can be in the whole eastern Ukraine, not only along the contact line," he said.

Western forces accuse Russia of fomenting the rebellion in its neighbor's former industrial heartland.

Clashes erupt regularly in the area despite the 2015 Minsk II peace agreement, which both sides accuse the other of violating.