SUNDAY, JULY 21, 2019
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Belarus: Send UN peacekeepers to Donbas
Journal Staff Report

MINSK, Oct. 31 - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Wednesday said his country may provide personnel to help seal Ukraine-Russia border as part of a discussed UN peacekeeping force in occupied regions of Donbas.

The comment comes days after Lukashenko has suggested stepping up efforts to de-escalate the conflict in Donbas by offering Belaruss support for the measure.

"Its necessary to further search for a mutually acceptable solution on deploying peacekeepers to Donbas. Maybe, we should consider the option of deploying a joint UN and OSCE mission to Ukraine," Lukashenko said at the Munich Security Conference Core Groups meeting on Wednesday.

The mission would involve "military, police officers and civilian personnel" from the countries, which have made their contribution to resolving the conflict. "We need to ensure a phasing principle of deploying this mission."

Sealing the border is crucial for de-escalation in the region as international observes say Russia has been supplying military equipment, ammunition and personnel to separatist administrations in Luhansk and Donetsk.

Russia has so far refused to agree to the UN peacekeeping force protecting the border, only to some limited deployment between forces controlled by the Ukrainian government and the separatists.

But the comment from Lukashenko, who positions himself as a regional leader close to Russia, may be an indication that Moscow may be willing to accept the deal to seal the border.

Russia on Tuesday clashed with European nations and the United States in the United Nations over the legality of elections in two Moscow-backed separatist areas in eastern Ukraine. The UN political chief indicated backing for the Western view that the votes would violate a 2015 peace agreement.

Russia appeared totally isolated at a Security Council meeting on the Nov. 11 elections in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Before the meeting began, a joint statement from France, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium and Germany was read outside the council chamber condemning "the illegitimate 'elections' planned for Nov. 11." It said the elections would "contravene commitments" under the 2015 agreement signed in the Belarus capital of Minsk and violate Ukrainian law. (tl/ez)

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