Ukraine rebels reject Kiev's UN peacekeeper proposal

(AGI) Rome, Feb 19 - The ceasefire in Ukraine is increasinglyat risk, with the rebels and Moscow rejecting Kiev's proposalto deploy UN peacekeepers along the border with Russia. The"architects" of the Minsk agreements - the leaders of France,Germany, Russia and Ukraine - spoke on the phone on Thursdaymorning. They noted the obvious "breaking" of the truce inDebaltsevo and committed to "rigorously enforcing" theceasefire "without exception". According to Kiev, 14 Ukrainiansoldiers were killed and 172 wounded in recent hours. TheUkrainian army suffered a heavy blow on Wednesday, having toabandon the strategic

(AGI) Rome, Feb 19 - The ceasefire in Ukraine is increasinglyat risk, with the rebels and Moscow rejecting Kiev's proposalto deploy UN peacekeepers along the border with Russia. The"architects" of the Minsk agreements - the leaders of France,Germany, Russia and Ukraine - spoke on the phone on Thursdaymorning. They noted the obvious "breaking" of the truce inDebaltsevo and committed to "rigorously enforcing" theceasefire "without exception". According to Kiev, 14 Ukrainiansoldiers were killed and 172 wounded in recent hours. TheUkrainian army suffered a heavy blow on Wednesday, having toabandon the strategic railway junction of Debaltsevo underseparatist pressure. Kiev reported that 2,475 soldiers had leftthe enclave, also admitting that over 90 had been killed, with82 others missing. The rebels claim that the pro-Russianoffensive is justified because the city is not on the frontline, but is in the area under their control. They alsopromptly appointed a new mayor of Debaltsevo. Now the area theycontrol is homogeneous, at the intersection between theseparatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. The question iswhether they will stop or continue to gain ground. According toKiev, they are focusing on Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov. Therebels fired on the city port from positions in Shirokino, acoastal village about 20 kilometres from the second city ofDonetsk region, which is still controlled by Ukraine. Therequest for a peacekeeping mission, which so far had beendeemed unnecessary by Kiev, evidently reflects the Ukrainiangovernment's fears of being unable to contain the rebeloffensive. However, the idea was immediately rejected by therebels and even described as "alarming" by the RussianAmbassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin. For Moscow, only OSCEobservers should monitor compliance with the agreements andUkrainian forces will only be allowed to guard the border afterelections in the east. Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister,Dmitri Medvedev, ordered the Ministry of Energy and Gazprom toprepare "gas supplies" for the separatist regions of EasternUkraine: "The people there must not freeze," he said. . .