World Bulletin/News Desk
Ukrainian government forces have no intention of renouncing a ceasefire in the separatist-held east of the country, a military spokesman said on Thursday.
But he reiterated that a buildup of forces in the regions the separatists control in eastern Ukraine signalled the pro-Russian rebels were planning a new offensive in a conflict that has killed more than 4,000 people.
The two-month-old truce has been violated daily, and increasingly in the past week. Each side has blamed the other for the violations.
"There is no intention of abandoning it (the ceasefire) despite all ... attempts to break these agreements by the Russian side," Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told a news briefing in the capital Kiev.
Kiev and the West say the separatists have received reinforcements of equipment and troops from Russia. Moscow denies accusations by NATO that it has sent in troops and tanks in the past few days and says it wants the ceasefire to work.
In remarks published on Thursday, Ukraine's representative to the OSCE security and rights body told an Austrian newspaper it was now hardly possible to speak of a ceasefire, citing 2,400 alleged breaches of the truce by rebels.
Lysenko said shelling in residential areas of the separatist-held Luhansk and Donetsk regions had intensified and that there had been no let-up in the flow of equipment to rebels from Russia.
"We can't predict when (an attack could happen) but we must always be prepared," he said, adding that reserve army units were being prepared for action in case they were needed.
He said four Ukrainian servicemen had been killed in the past 24 hours.
UN warns of return to full-scale war
The fragile cease-fire agreement between rebel pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces are "under continuous and serious strain," a senior UN political official told the Security Council Wednesday.
"With the Minsk agreements in question, and uncertainty over how much strain the cease-fire can withstand, we are deeply concerned over the possibility of a return to full-scale fighting," UN Assistant Secretary-General Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen told an emergency session on Ukraine.
The meeting was held amid growing tensions between the West and Russia, with Kiev authorities claiming that dozens of military convoys carrying weapons have crossed into eastern Ukraine from Russia.
"The promise of renewal, and of renewed energy towards solving Ukraine’s problems embodied in the recent parliamentary elections threatens to be overshadowed by the worsening security situation in the east of the country," the UN official said, referring to Ukraine's early parliamentary vote held Oct. 26.
One week after the parliamentary elections, pro-Russia rebels held self-rule polls in the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk amid disagreements over legitimacy.
The EU and NATO have denounced the poll as illegitimate, and said it undermined efforts to resolve the conflict. Russia recognized the vote, however, and separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko was sworn-in as head of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic.
Tensions in the region has been reported to be at their worst in months since last week, with a heavy exchange of artillery shelling in and around Donetsk
"Currently, the security situation in Donetsk and Lugansk almost rivals the period immediately preceding the cease-fire agreement of Sept. 5," Toyberg-Frandzen warned.
Between mid-April and Oct. 6, at least 3,600 people have died and 8,700 people have been wounded during the conflict, the UN Human Rights Office said in a report last month.Last Mod: 13 Kasım 2014, 14:36