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Polish President Asks UN To Deploy Peacekeepers In Eastern Ukraine

Polish President Andrzej Duda
Polish President Andrzej Duda

Poland's president has asked the UN Security Council to deploy a UN peacekeeping force in eastern Ukraine throughout the zone of conflict with Russia-backed separatists and along the border with Russia.

"We are advocating the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission," Andrzej Duda told a news conference in New York late on May 17 after delivering a similar plea before the UN Security Council, where Poland holds the rotating presidency for the month of May.

"First, those forces should be deployed along the internationally recognized border between Ukraine and Russia," he said.

"I also stressed in the strongest terms that if that happened, those forces should deploy across all territory which today is in the hands of separatists," he said.

Ukraine has supported the introduction of United Nations peacekeepers as long as they are placed along the border with Russia to monitor and ensure Russian troops and weapons do not come over the border to aid the separatists.

Russia made a much narrower proposal in September, saying it would support a limited UN peacekeeping mission to protect around 600 observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who are on the ground in eastern Ukraine.

Russia drafted a UN resolution that would authorize lightly armed peacekeepers to protect the OSCE monitors along the demarcation line between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia fighters.

But that was unacceptable to Ukraine and its allies in Europe and the United States. The Security Council never formally debated either sides' proposals.

As president of the council this month, Poland's UN representative may bring Warsaw's proposal up for debate. But it could face a veto from Russia, which has strongly opposed placing armed UN peacekeepers along its border with Ukraine.

More than 10,300 people have been killed in the conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia separatists since the insurgency broke out in April 2014 following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Clashes erupt regularly despite a 2015 peace agreement forged in Minsk that laid down a process for establishing peace in the region but has been little heeded by either side.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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