Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called on the UN secretary-general to draw up options for a peacekeeping mission in eastern Ukraine, saying such a mission could be a "decisive factor" in ending the conflict there.
Poroshenko told the UN General Assembly on February 20 that Ukraine is ready to discuss a multinational, UN-mandated peacekeeping operation with "a clear objective to end the Russian aggression and restore Ukraine's sovereignty."
Russia, which illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in March 2014, supports armed separatists who control parts of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where more than 10,300 have died since the conflict with Ukrainian government forces erupted in April 2014.
Fighting persists despite cease-fire deals reached as part of the September 2014 and February 2015 Minsk accords.
Ukraine has been pressing for the deployment of UN peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine as long as they are placed along the border with Russia to monitor and ensure Russian troops and weapons do not come over the border to aid the separatists.
Russia has said it would support a limited UN peacekeeping mission to protect observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who are on the ground in eastern Ukraine.
In his address to the General Assembly in New York, Poroshenko said that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should send a fact-finding mission for a peacekeeping mission to eastern Ukraine in order to outline "elaborate respective options" that could be discussed.
The Ukrainian president, who is running for a second five-year term in the March 31 presidential election, accused Russia of conducting an "undeclared war."
He also called for Moscow to be deprived of its veto power in the UN Security Council on issues related to the “Russian aggression against Ukraine."
Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia later told the assembly that Poroshenko was “the president of war, a war which continues to this day."
"Today, this General Assembly hall has become nothing other for him than an election campaigning rostrum," Nebenzia also said.