Mekel Backs Putin’s Pro­posed U.N. Ukraine Peace­keep­ers Ac­cess


BER­LIN (Dis­patches) - Any United Na­tions peace­keep­ers sent to east­ern Ukraine must be granted ac­cess to the en­tirety of the re­gion held by Moscow-backed sep­a­ratists, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel said.

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin floated the idea of de­ploy­ing U.N. troops to east­ern Ukraine in a Mon­day call with Merkel, sug­gest­ing that the U.N. mis­sion could pro­tect ob­servers from the in­ter­na­tional OSCE mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion.

With grow­ing calls in Ger­many for the lift­ing of Euro­pean Union sanc­tions against Russia over its ac­tiv­i­ties in Ukraine, Moscow has been keen to float pro­pos­als that would help soften ex­port bans that have hit Rus­sians’ liv­ing stan­dards.

“I find Pres­i­dent Putin’s pro­posal to send U.N. troops to pro­tect OSCE ob­servers in­ter­est­ing,” she told the FUNKE news­pa­per group on Fri­day. “A few days ago I dis­cussed with him that the U.N. troops must have ac­cess to ev­ery­where where the OSCE is sta­tioned, so the en­tire Donetsk/Luhansk re­gion.”

The con­flict be­tween Ukrainian forces and Rus­sian­backed sep­a­ratists has claimed more than 10,000 lives since it erupted in 2014. Russia de­nies West­ern ac­cu­sa­tions it fo­mented the con­flict and pro­vided arms and fight­ers.

The ob­servers are there to mon­i­tor im­ple­men­ta­tion of a peace deal agreed in Minsk in 2015, which has been largely un­suc­cess­ful in set­tling the con­flict de­spite Ger­man and French urg­ings.

Some Ger­man politi­cians have said sanc­tions should be lifted if the peace deal is im­ple­mented. Christian Lind­ner, leader of the Free Democrats, a likely coali­tion part­ner for Merkel af­ter Sept. 24 elec­tions, even sug­gested Ger­many must ac­cept Russia’s oc­cu­pa­tion of Ukraine’s Crimean penin­sula.

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