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Russia accuses Ukraine of ignoring peace deal

Published 23/03/2016

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, left, shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during a news conference in Moscow (AP)
German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, left, shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during a news conference in Moscow (AP)

Russia has accused the Ukrainian government of dragging its feet on implementing last year's cease-fire agreement.

Although the cease-fire between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces has largely held, none of the political elements - including calling a local election there - has been implemented.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who was hosting his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Moscow, told reporters that Kiev's inaction is the main stumbling block to a peace settlement in the east.

He said Germany had floated an idea of holding an election in the rebel-occupied territories this summer but Kiev said "no".

Fighting in Ukraine's industrial heartland, which has close ties to Russia, has killed more than 9,100 people and left large swathes of land under rebel control.

Germany, France and Russia have mediated talks between representatives of the government and separatists at talks in Minsk, Belarus, which resulted in a broad cease-fire agreement.

"Minsk-2 cannot be reviewed, and we should resist attempts to undermine it," Mr Lavrov said.

Kiev insists it cannot hold a vote there because it cannot guarantee security for election officials.

Rebels in their turn have said they will not allow Ukrainian right-wing parties to run, which the Ukrainian government says makes the election impossible.

Mr Steinmeier urged both sides to comply with the partial withdrawal and warned of a possible escalation.

Both Mr Steinmeier and Mr Lavrov appeared to be in a jovial mood, and Mr Steinmeier said they both pledged to "look for ways to overcome the differences that stand in our way to find a solution" for eastern Ukraine.

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