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Ukraine: 'Frozen Conflict' Could Destabilize Europe

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin warns a "frozen conflict" in eastern Ukraine could destabilize Europe.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin warns a "frozen conflict" in eastern Ukraine could destabilize Europe.

Ukraine has urged the European Union not to accept pro-Russian rebels carving out a de facto state in the east of the country, warning it could destabilize Europe.

Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin also urged Moscow to dissuade separatists from holding their own elections in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk next month.

Speaking to Reuters on October 8, Klimkin said local people would do better to vote in local elections organized by Kyiv in December.

Klimkin said "fake elections" organized by the rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk would reinforce impressions that eastern Ukraine is becoming a long-term "frozen conflict" like the Moscow-backed breakaway regions of Transdniester in Moldova or Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia.

Klimkin said he was not trying to "blackmail" Western European states into stepping up actions, such as economic sanctions, against Russia, or to get NATO to increase non-military assistance to Kyiv.

Klimkin was speaking in Brussels, where he and other senior Ukrainian officials met EU and NATO counterparts.

Among those with whom Klimkin held talks was NATO's new Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

"The NATO secretary general has changed, but the priority importance of Ukraine remains the same," Klimkin tweeted after the meeting.

Klimkin said the country would seek European Commission funding to help eastern residents survive the winter with limited access to essential supplies.

In Washington, Ukrainian Central Bank chief Valeria Gontareva met with the boss of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde in hope of speeding up the delivery of a $17.1-billion loan and even expanding that amount.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told his cabinet that Gontareva would ask the IMF "to modify its program taking current realities into account".

The two-year IMF arrangement is part of a global $27-billion package approved in April to help the new leaders avert bankruptcy and pull Ukraine out of its third recession in six years.

But the economic slide has only accelerated and the economy is now expected to shrink by up to nine percent this year.

Last month, the IMF itself warned Ukraine may need an additional $19 billion in short-term assistance should the conflict in the east stretch through the end of next year.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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