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More Observers, Drones To Monitor Ukraine Truce

OSCE observers inspect a site near residential buildings damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.
OSCE observers inspect a site near residential buildings damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.

More international monitors plus unarmed drones will be deployed to monitor a shaky cease-fire in eastern Ukraine.

The announcement was made September 13 after talks between Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko and Didier Burkhalter, Swiss president and current chairman of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Poroshenko's office said the Ukrainian leader had agreed to allow the OSCE to increase the number of monitors in eastern Ukraine and to deploy drones to better monitor the September 5 cease-fire.

Burkhalter has said the OSCE had 70 specialists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to monitor the cease-fire between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists.

ITAR-TASS had earlier quoted the OSCE as saying the drones would be used to monitor, in part, the Ukraine-Russia border.

Kyiv accuses Moscow of either sending or allowing troops and weapons to flow across the border from Russia into Ukraine.

Earlier, the Ukrainian military said it had repelled an attack by pro-Russian separatists on Donetsk airport.

Also in eastern Ukraine, a convoy of trucks which Russian officials say are carrying humanitarian aid arrived in Luhansk, the other major separatist stronghold.

The OSCE observer mission at the Russian-Ukrainian border said 220 trucks had crossed into Ukraine.

'Direct Invasion'

It said only 40 trucks were checked by Russian customs officials and that none of the vehicles were inspected by the Ukrainian side or by the ICRC.

The Ukrainian government accused Russia of a "direct invasion" after a similar convoy entered Ukraine last month without permission from authorities in Kyiv.

Also on September 13, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the Kremlin wants to “eliminate” Ukraine as an independent country.

Speaking at a conference attended by Western and Ukrainian lawmakers and businessmen in Kyiv on September 13, Yatsenyuk accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of seeking to "restore the Soviet Union."

Yatsenyuk said Putin “wants another frozen conflict" in eastern Ukraine.

He also said that despite the cease-fire to end five months of fighting in the east, Ukraine is still "in a stage of war," with the "key aggressor" being Russia.

Yatsenyuk insisted that Russia was "a threat to the global order and to the security of the entire Europe," adding that NATO was the "only vehicle" that could protect his country.

Yatsenyuk said a new wave of economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union and the United States over its role in the Ukraine conflict posed a major threat to the Russian economy.

The sanctions were announced by the United States and the EU in a coordinated move on September 12 and target Russia's energy, defense, and banking sectors.

In a reference to the latest Western sanctions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States of "trying to use the crisis in Ukraine to break economic ties between the EU and Russia and force Europe to buy U.S. liquefied gas at much higher prices."

In an interview broadcast on television, Lavrov the EU was "prepared to sacrifice its economy to politics."

The Russian foreign minister also dismissed as "nonsense" claims that Russia was intent on creating a buffer zone in eastern Ukraine, insisting that that Moscow wanted Ukraine to be a "prosperous, neutral, and friendly country."

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS, Interfax,, and AP
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