Demilitarized zone, OSCE monitoring among E.Ukraine militias’ peace proposals

Demilitarized zone, OSCE monitoring among E.Ukraine militias’ peace proposals
The self-proclaimed People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk have come up with their own proposals to stabilize the situation in south-eastern Ukraine, which include a temporary ceasefire, a demilitarized zone, flight bans for Kiev and OSCE monitoring.

The first and most important step should be the announcement of a temporary ceasefire by both the Ukrainian military and the self-defense forces starting from 15:00 local time (12:00GMT) on September 5, the Donetsk and Lugansk representatives told Interfax news agency.

The leadership of the two republics proposed to “carry out international control of the implementation of the terms of the ceasefire and monitoring of the situation under the authority of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe).”

According to the initiative, a security zone should be created in the territory of Donetsk and Lugansk Republics, which will be divided into five sectors, each hosting up to 40 observers working at stationary and mobile offices.

The OSCE staff is to be equipped with means of surveillance and communication to effectively execute their duties, the representatives stressed.

The other proposals include a ban on all flights by Ukrainian military aircraft over the territory of the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, also starting from 15:00 local time (12:00GMT) on September 5.

It’s proposed that the implementation will also be monitored by the OSCE, which will receive data directly from Russia’s objective airspace situation control.

The humanitarian corridors for relocation refugees and delivery of humanitarian supplies to the cities in Donetsk and Lugansk Republics via road and railway are to be opened from 10:00 local time (07:00GMT) on September 7, the representatives added.

The proposals will be presented to the Russia-Ukraine-EU contact group on the settlement of the conflict, which is scheduled to meet in Minsk, Belarus on Friday, the heads of the two self-proclaimed republics said in a statement.

The initiatives coming from Donetsk and Lugansk only add specifics to the 7-step peace plan for the settlement of the conflict in Ukraine, which was voiced by Russian President, Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday.

Read more: Ukraine ceasefire: Putin lays out 7-step plan to stop hostilities in E. Ukraine

It envisaged a halt to the militia’s advances in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions; withdrawal of Kiev troops to a distance that makes shelling impossible; objective international control over the ceasefire; a ban on the use of combat aircraft against civilians; unconditional prisoner exchange; the organization of humanitarian corridors, and a provision of direct access for repair crews to destroyed infrastructure.

Anti-goverment fighters walk towards destroyed war memorial at Savur-Mohyla, a hill east of the city of Donetsk, August 28, 2014 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

The security minister of the People's Republic of Donetsk, Leonid Baranov, has also fully backed the Russian president’s idea of prisoner exchange without preconditions via an “all-for-all” formula.

“We’ll insist on the plan proposed by Vladimir Putin. It’s difficult to predict what Kiev’s reaction would be. Personally, I think that the most realistic solution is an ‘all-for-all’ exchange,” the minister told RIA-Novosti news agency after arriving in Minsk.

Another unnamed representative of the Donetsk People’s Republic told RIA-Novosti about the need to create a demilitarized zone at the republic’s borders with Ukraine.

The ceasefire will actually work “only after the Ukrainian troops will be withdrawn to the distance, from which they won’t be able to use their long-range artillery – that’s around 50 kilometers from the Donetsk People’s Republic borders,” he explained.

Earlier on Thursday, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said that he’ll also order a ceasefire for government troops fighting self-defense forces in the southeast of country if the meeting in the Belarusian capital goes as planned.

Ukraine has been engulfed in violent internal conflict since April, when Kiev’s military began its crackdown on the southeastern regions of the country.

According to United Nations’ estimates released on Tuesday, over 2,249 people have been killed so far and more than 6,033 wounded in the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The number of internally displaced Ukrainians has reached 260,000, with another 814,000 finding refuge in Russia, the UN said.