Ukraine official reveals why latest Mink meeting failed

MOSCOW - Negotiations between representatives of Ukraine's government and pro-Russian separatists were supposed take place on Saturday, Jan. 31 at a meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk.

Instead, the OSCE, or Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, reported that the separatist representatives who had been invited did not attend the meeting, and their delegates were "not even prepared to discuss the implementation of a ceasefire," and that they had proposed a "revision" of the previously-agreed-upon Minsk protocol.

With the meeting having been adjourned without result, Monday saw separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko calling for an additional 100,000 men as fighting continued all along the line of contact between government and separatist forces in southeast Ukraine.

Why did Saturday's meeting fail, and what were the alleged revisions the separatist delegates proposed?

On Wednesday, Ukraine's ambassador-at-large for strategic communications, Dmytro Kuleba, told The Anadolu Agency's Moscow correspondent what the separatist delegates demanded.

"They demanded the recognition of the line (of contact), the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire and threatened a large-scale offensive," he wrote.

According to the OSCE's statement, the topic of Saturday's meeting was to be the concrete implementation of the Minsk protocol, specifically the declaration of a bilateral ceasefire and the removal of heavy weapons, such as artillery and rocket launchers, from the line of contact.

Negotiations having stalled, the OSCE continues to report on artillery shelling and civilian casualties in disputed territories. 

Last December saw relative peace as a tenuous ceasefire was established. Late in that month a prisoner exchange, a step toward implementing one of the points stipulated in the Minsk protocol, was carried out between the two sides.

On Jan. 15, however, the ceasefire collapsed as separatist forces renewed the fighting with an offensive against Donetsk airport. On Jan. 25, a rocket attack against the Ukrainian government city of Mariupol left 30 residents dead.

According to the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, more than 5,300 people have been killed in the conflict that began last April, with over 12,000 injured or wounded.

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