Kremlin says Ukraine moving too slowly to fulfill peace deal

AP News
Posted: Mar 12, 2015 3:39 PM
Kremlin says Ukraine moving too slowly to fulfill peace deal

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia accused Ukraine Thursday of dragging its feet on implementing last month's peace deal, citing a wide range of areas in which Kiev is allegedly failing to meet its obligations.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told The Associated Press that Ukraine was failing in its pledge to declare an amnesty for fighters and to set the stage for local elections in the east. He also accused Ukrainian authorities of being reluctant to restore financial and social services to the east.

"Unfortunately, we witness unwillingness," Peskov told the AP, "and we are concerned about that."

He said that while hostilities in eastern Ukraine have abated thanks to the Feb. 12 peace deal, Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government are still blaming each other for a slow and incomplete withdrawal of heavy weapons. He said "we do expect both sides of the conflict to fulfill their obligations, and to withdraw completely and timely all the heavy armaments."

More than 6,000 people have been killed in the fighting between government troops and the rebels since the pro-Russian insurgency flared up in eastern Ukraine in April, following Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of fueling the rebellion with troops and weapons — charges Moscow has denied.

Under the peace agreement signed in Minsk, Ukraine can restore full control over its border with Russia only after the Ukrainian parliament conducts a constitutional reform granting wide powers to the rebel regions.

In line with the peace accord, heavy weapons are to be pulled back by distances between 25 and 70 kilometers (15 to 45 miles) from the front line, depending on their caliber. The Ukrainian government and the rebels have blamed each other for falling behind schedule in withdrawing the armaments.