Russia-Ukraine War Unlikely

Russia-Ukraine  War UnlikelyRussia-Ukraine  War Unlikely

Russian President Vladimir Putin said war with neighboring Ukraine is “unlikely”, in an interview for Russian television. Putin also stressed his support for the recent Minsk ceasefire deal as the best way to stabilize eastern Ukraine.

In his interview - his first extended comments since the ceasefire deal was agreed on 12 February - Putin was asked if there was a real threat of war, given the situation in eastern Ukraine.

“I think that such an apocalyptic scenario is unlikely and I hope this will never happen,” he said.

Putin said that if the Minsk agreement was implemented, eastern Ukraine would “gradually stabilize,” BBC said in a report.

Putin said the leaders of France and Germany genuinely want to find a compromise that would help end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

“Europe is just as interested in that as Russia. No one wants conflict on the edge of Europe, especially armed conflict,” he said.

Foreign ministers from Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany were due to meet in Paris on Tuesday to discuss the ceasefire.

The Russian leader also said the Minsk deal had become an “international legal document” following UN Security Council approval of a Russian-drafted resolution endorsing it.

Last week the deal looked in danger of collapsing when rebels captured the strategically important transport hub of Debaltseve.

  Time for UN to Decide

The UN would be effective in settling international disputes, if some member-states did not try to use it for dominating world affairs, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a statement, adding that such efforts led to bombings in Serbia, war in Iraq and chaos in Libya.

Lavrov called for the UN, about to celebrate its 70th anniversary, to be an independent and effective leader in global decision-making, despite attempts by some of its members to usurp the organization’s functions.

“It’s time to answer the question; do we really want the see the UN an effective and influential instrument of preserving peace and security or are we ready to allow it turn into the arena of propagandist struggle, with the UN being excluded from the process of finding key solutions to international problems,” Lavrov said, at the open debate for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), held on Monday in New York.

He listed episodes in recent history, which he sees as violations of the UN charter, caused by a will to dominate world affairs.

“It’s enough to remember the bombings of Serbia, the occupation of Iraq under a false pretext, and the rude manipulation of the Security Council mandate leading to destruction and on-going chaos in Libya.”

  Ceasefire Deal in Impasse

Rebels said on Tuesday they continued withdrawing heavy weapons from the frontline in east Ukraine under a ceasefire deal, but the Ukrainian military, which says it won’t pull back until fighting stops, reported further shelling.

Fighting has eased in eastern Ukraine in recent days after the rebels initially ignored a ceasefire that was due to start on February 15 and stormed a government-held town. Rebels have consistently indicated they want the truce to take effect. Kiev says the rebels are still shooting, which the rebels deny.

Both sides have two weeks under the terms of the Minsk deal to pull artillery and tanks out of striking distance.

Fighting began in eastern Ukraine in April, a month after the annexation of Crimea peninsula to Russia. Nearly 5,700 people have died and at least 1.25 million have fled their homes since the conflict began early last year, according to the UN.

The Ukrainian government and western leaders say that Russia is helping the rebels with heavy weapons and soldiers, a claim Moscow has steadily denied.

The US said last week it was considering arming Ukrainian government forces in fight against the rebels. However, according to a poll conducted by the US think tank Pew Research Center, more than half of US citizens oppose arms deliveries to Kiev.

Some 53 percent of US residents are against sending weapons to Ukraine, the poll said. The number of those who oppose arms deliveries to Kiev has decreased by 9 percent comparing to 2014.