UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Over the past year, the United States and other members of the U.N. Security Council have loudly accused Russia of backing separatists in Ukraine, but the threat of a Russian veto has blocked them from taking action in close to 30 meetings on the crisis. Now, Russia is asking for their support.
Russia circulated a surprise draft resolution, obtained Friday by The Associated Press, endorsing the new cease-fire agreement on Ukraine and calling on all parties involved to fully carry it out.
U.N. diplomats said the council is expected to meet Sunday to vote on the resolution, just hours after the cease-fire is to take effect at one minute after midnight.
Russia, as a permanent member of the 15-seat council, can veto any proposed resolution it dislikes. It has denied backing the separatists in eastern Ukraine, who made a late grab for territory Friday before the cease-fire takes effect.
The brief draft resolution expresses "grave concern at the tragic events" in the region. It says a solution to the conflict is possible "exclusively" by peaceful means.
Russia last year offered a few resolutions calling for a cease-fire, but they were unpopular with council members who were angry over its annexation of Crimea early in the crisis. The United States quickly denounced one draft that called for establishing humanitarian aid corridors in the region as "hypocritical."
The latest cease-fire was reached Thursday after long overnight talks among the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France. Its terms include the formation of a sizeable buffer zone between Ukrainian forces and the rebels, while Ukraine regains control of its border with Russia.
A previous cease-fire called in September never fully took hold.
When asked Friday whether he thought this new deal would fall apart, Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy Sergeyev, said, "We are not naive, you know."
More than 5,300 people have been killed in the fighting in Ukraine since April, while the United Nations has warned of a "frozen" conflict that could linger for years or decades.