Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko refused a Russian proposal to deploy UN peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine as an effort to legalize forces it backs and freeze the conflict.
Poroshenko used his speech at the annual gathering of world leaders for the United Nations General Assembly to accuse Moscow of not contributing to international security, but of being its “biggest threat.”
According to Reuters, Russian President Vladimir Putin this month suggested armed UN peacekeepers be deployed to eastern Ukraine to help protect ceasefire monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and to help end a conflict between Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists, which has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014.
Relations between Kiev and Moscow have never been worse since Russia annexed Crimea more than three years ago and Russian-backed separatist fighters subsequently took up arms against Ukrainian government forces in the east of the country.
“The latest hybrid peacekeeping proposal from Moscow is yet another example of Russia’s real ambition to legalize its proxies and freeze the conflict forever,” he said.
“We remain confident that a fully fledged peacekeeping operation is the only viable solution to de-escalate and protect the people of Ukraine.”
Kiev and Western countries accuse Russia of providing military backing to the insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Russia denies any direct role in the conflict.
Efforts to broker an end to fighting through the so-called Minsk agreements have so far failed. Violence continues with attempted ceasefires repeatedly broken. Western powers fear peace efforts could unravel.
“The key problem in Donbass is that Ukraine and Russia strive for different things,” Poroschenko said.
“Ukraine wants peace and restoration of its sovereign territory, but Russia wants control of Ukraine and undermines every effort (to get) our sovereign control on Ukraine’s border.”