Russian President Vladimir Putin has signaled his willingness to look into the idea of deploying UN peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine not only along the conflict line separating Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists, but also in other areas where monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) work.
The Kremlin said Putin made the comments in a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on September 11.
"Vladimir Putin elaborated on the Russian initiative to set up a UN mission to facilitate the guarding of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM)," the Kremlin said.
"In light of thoughts voiced by Angela Merkel, the Russian leader indicated a readiness to update the functions of the aforementioned UN mission in the Russia-sponsored draft resolution of the [UN] Security Council."
"It is intended that UN peacekeepers could guard OSCE observers not only on the line of contact following the disengagement of both parties' forces and hardware, but in other locations as well, where the OSCE SMM pays its inspection visits," it added.
In a statement, the German Chancellery said Putin "agreed to remove the previous limitation of deployment of the planned UN mission" after Merkel pointed out that "changes in the mandate were necessary."
On September 5, Putin called for the deployment of lightly armed peacekeepers to protect OSCE observers monitoring the conflict in eastern Ukraine. But he indicated that the peacekeepers would operate only along the front line separating Ukrainian government forces and separatists.
However, Kyiv said the mission should patrol the whole conflict zone including the border between Russia and the separatist-held parts of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which Kyiv says is used to ship weapons and military personnel in from Russia. Ukraine also rejected Moscow's demand that any deployment needs to be agreed by separatists.
"[The mission’s] purpose should not be the preservation of Russia's occupation and the legalization of the Russian military presence, but a durable peace," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on September 7.
"Its purpose should not be the preservation of Russia's occupation and the legalization of the Russian military presence, but a durable peace," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on September 7.
Poroshenko called Putin's proposal "strange," but said Ukraine is ready to discuss any proposal at the UN.
The conflict has killed more than 10,000 civilians and combatants in eastern Ukraine since it erupted in April 2014, after Russia seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and fomented separatism in some eastern parts of the country.
The war has persisted despite a European-brokered agreement on a cease-fire and a settlement road map that was signed by Ukraine, Russia, and the separatists in February 2015.
Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax