Amid Russia-Ukraine Tensions, Kyiv Hopes Truce Will Ease Military Tensions

The restoration of a 2020 ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine by Russia and Ukraine has prompted a top official in Kyiv to suggest that the upcoming holidays “should be calm.”

Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff of Ukraine’s presidential administration, praised the pact reached by Europe’s OSCE security organization as a move toward de-escalation.

The accord comes at a time when tensions in the area are at an all-time high.

Russia is said to have put 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border, according to Ukraine and the West.

Russian President Vladimir Putin promised “appropriate military-technical reaction measures” if the West’s hostile posture was maintained earlier this week. He stated on Thursday, though, that it was not his favorite option and that he hoped to hold discussions with the US in Geneva next month.

Russian authorities deny any intentions for an invasion, but the Russian defense ministry said military drills will be held in the area on Thursday and Friday. Germany has voiced concern over Russia’s army moves, saying that communication is “now vital” in order to avoid a catastrophic conflict.

President Putin has requested assurances that Nato will cease military operations in Eastern Europe and that Ukraine will not be allowed to join the Western defence alliance. He accused Nato of deceiving Russia with five rounds of enlargement during his traditional end-of-year news conference.

According to sources from Moscow, Russia has handed the US suggested dates for talks next month. Mr Putin told media that the ball was now in the West’s court.

Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato Secretary-General, stated this week that he hoped for discussions with Russia early next year, but that Ukraine’s participation in the alliance was up to Nato and Kyiv: “Of course, any engagement with Russia must adhere to the key values that have guided European security.”

For the last seven years, Ukrainian soldiers have been at odds with rebels supported by Russia who have taken control of huge swaths of eastern Ukraine known as the Donbas.

In that period, about 14,000 individuals have been slain. Despite the fact that fighting ceased in 2015, conflicts continued, and a truce in July 2020 was supposed to put an end to the hostilities.

Ceasefire breaches have increased in recent months, and Kyiv’s defense ministry accuses Russia of putting 122,000 troops within 200 kilometers (125 miles) of Ukraine’s borders. They claim that another 143,500 troops are stationed within 400 kilometers.

Late Wednesday, the two nations, together with Russian-backed rebels, agreed to strengthen the cease-fire with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The OSCE operates a monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine, with the goal of preventing war and managing crises.

The pact is especially crucial, according to OSCE Ambassador Mikko Kinnunen, because his organization’s monitors had documented five times more ceasefire breaches this month than in December last year.

Mr. Yermak wrote on Facebook, “This is a start toward de-escalation.” “We hope that this time the ceasefire will be permanent, allowing Ukrainian defenders and civilians to be saved.”

Ukraine’s combined military command stated on Thursday that no separatist breaches had been detected in the previous 24 hours.

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