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29 Jul, 2014 19:49

Kiev declares cease-fire at MH17 crash site amid Russia’s numerous calls

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said Kiev is finally ready for a cease-fire at the MH17 crash site after Russia’s numerous calls. Kiev continued its military offensive even after the UNSC urged a halt to fighting in the area last week.

Poroshenko announced a unilateral cease-fire in a 20 km radius of the crash site of the MH17 flight in a telephone conversation with the PMs of Netherlands and Australia, according to his press-service.

Earlier in the day US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed Kiev was ready for a cease-fire “now,” following a meeting with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin in Washington.

Kerry added that President Poroshenko is also ready to start talks with the militia in the southeast of the country.

Russia has called on Kiev numerous times to establish a cease-fire and start talks. The local militia in the south-east offered a bilateral cease-fire last week. Kiev refused.

The UNSC demanded Kiev set a no-fighting zone in the area of the MH17 crash site, adopting the resolution on July 21. Instead, Kiev beefed up its military forces in the region starting an offensive in the area of the crash.

"In violation of this requirement made by the Security Council, Kiev publicly announced its intention to take control over the area of the crash by force and began an offensive operation in the area,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.(AFP Photo / Alexander Nemenov)

As a result, the attempts made by representatives of the international investigation team based in Donetsk to get to the disaster area and start their work were thwarted, the ministry added.

However, Poroshenko told the PMs of Netherlands and Australia on Tuesday that Kiev “is making every effort possible to accelerate the international experts’ access of to the crash site.”

The local militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said on Tuesday they were ready to further cooperate with OSCE experts investigating the MH17 crash.

Member of the DNR’s Security Council Sergey Kavtaradze told RT in a telephone conversation that he spoke to the OSCE experts today and they have problems reaching the crash site “as the Ukrainian army is conducting military action there.”

There was a tank attack and artillery strikes today”, he said adding that the Ukrainian troops are “destroying the evidence” at the location.

Ukraine civil war death toll 1,100, over 3,500 wounded - UN

‘Kiev afraid of OSCE mission on Russian border’

Moscow has called on Kiev to stop shelling Russia’s territory and ensure the safety of the OSCE observers being deployed to monitor the Russian-Ukrainian border, the Russian FM said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the Gukovo border-crossing was shelled by Ukrainian troops from rocket propelled grenades and machine guns, according to the Foreign Ministry’s statement.

A customs office received new damage, in addition to the previous impairment which was a result of Ukrainian troop’s shelling,” the statement added.

“Judging by all appearances, Kiev is clearly afraid of the mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, being deployed at Gukovo and called upon to monitor the situation on the Russian-Ukrainian state border."

The first OSCE observers are to arrive at the Russian border-crossings Donetsk and Gukovo on Tuesday.

4 first-responders, acting Chief Observer on way to Rostov reg. as part of OSCE Observer Mission to 2 Russia checkpoints on border w/Ukraine

— OSCE (@OSCE) July 29, 2014

The decision to deploy sixteen observers to the two border-crossings was made by the OSCE last week.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday that Moscow welcomed the decision.

We are expecting deployment of the OSCE mission at the check-points of ‘Donetsk’ and ‘Gukovo’ in the coming days. I asked [US Secretary of State] John Kerry in a phone call yesterday to instruct the US team at the OSCE not to curb the realization of this agreement.”

The foreign ministry also expressed regret concerning “the position of Ukraine, US and Canada during the approval of the draft decision of the OSCE,” adding that the countries “hampered the efforts to reach a consensus” and “distorted the essence of the Russian initiative."

Meanwhile, the OSCE Chairman-President of Switzerland Didier Burkhalter said that the decision on the deployment of observers at the checkpoints on the Russian-Ukrainian border is aimed at building confidence between the two sides.

Nine cases of shelling of Russian territory from Ukraine were reported in June and July, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry. The most intensive gunfire took place on July 25, when 40 shells allegedly fired from Ukraine exploded in the border town of Primiussky in Rostov region.

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