NATO leaders urge Russia to withdraw its forces, all militant groups from Donbas

16:20, 12 July 2018
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"The ongoing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, instigated and perpetuated by Russia, remains a major challenge to Euro-Atlantic security, and has produced a humanitarian catastrophe in the Donbas. This has led to the loss of more than 10,000 lives and displaced over 1.5 million Ukrainian citizens," according to the Chairman's statement on NATO-Ukraine following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council with Georgia and Ukraine at the Brussels Summit.

"Allies and Ukraine reaffirmed their support for the settlement of the conflict by diplomatic means in accordance with the Minsk Agreements and welcomed the efforts of the Normandy format in this regard. They urged all parties to comply fully with the commitments to which they signed up," the statement says.

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"Russia, as a party to the Minsk Agreements, bears significant responsibility in this regard. NATO and Ukraine called on Russia to withdraw its forces and to cease all political, financial and military support to the Russian-led militants in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions."

"NATO leaders and Ukraine stressed that ensuring a comprehensive ceasefire, the withdrawal of heavy weapons, the effective monitoring and verification by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), the withdrawal of Russian-backed formations and heavy military equipment, as well as the disarmament of illegal groups remain the first necessary steps to de-escalate the conflict," reads the report.

It is also reported the SMM must be allowed to fulfill its mandate and have full, safe and unhindered access throughout Ukraine, including the Ukraine-Russia state border.

"NATO and Ukraine called on Russia to return to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) in order to ensure the facilitation of local ceasefires," it said.

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