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Kiev Hopes for Trilateral Contact Group Meeting on Saturday Amid Donbass Escalation

© Sputnik / Sergey Averin / Go to the mediabankDeputy head of OSCE Mission to Ukraine Alexander Hug
Deputy head of OSCE Mission to Ukraine Alexander Hug   - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.02.2022
KIEV (Sputnik) - Kiev is ready to do everything necessary to restore the ceasefire in Donbass, counts on holding a trilateral contact group meeting on Saturday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk said.
"We hope that such a meeting will take place tomorrow. We are ready to work, ready for dialogue, ready to do everything so that the ceasefire continues, the ceasefire regime is resumed, and the civilian population does not suffer," Vereshchuk said at a briefing.

Ukraine asks Germany and France to send their representatives to the OSCE SMM so that they could independently assess the situation in Donbass, Vereshchuk said.

"We need independent verification. That is why we turned to our Normandy participants and ask Germany and France to resolve the issue of providing their representatives to the OSCE SMM, who will independently assess the situation, as soon as possible. We are ready and allow the OSCE mission to all points that are only needed," she said.

The Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said it is ready for a contact group meeting only if Kiev has concrete proposals and is open to dialogue.
Russia, for its part, is ready for an urgent meeting of the Contact Group should Kiev and Donbass agree to hold it, a source in Moscow said.
The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprises representatives from this country, as well as from Russia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Founded in 2014, the group is aimed at facilitating a diplomatic resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The situation in eastern Ukraine escalated dramatically in the past 24 hours after the authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics said that Kiev's forces had started shelling of their territories. According to DPR's head Denis Pushilin, Ukrainian President Zelensky was planning to order an invasion of Donbass, a claim which Ukraine's Security Service has denied.
"Allegedly, our military are going to attack Donetsk and Luhansk, allegedly in order to liberate our territories. I can tell you that all this is absolutely untrue, there are no orders to liberate our territories by force. Moreover, we are aware that if a decision is made to liberate these territories, there will be heavy casualties among the civilian population, there can be no such order in our country," Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine said.

He stated that Russia allegedly floated reports about offensive plans on purpose in order to provoke the Ukrainian military to "the answers that they wanted us to provide."
A toy is pictured on the contact line with Ukrainian armed forces in the village of Molodezhniy in Luhansk region, self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, Eastern Ukraine - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.02.2022
Donetsk People's Republic Starts Evacuation of Civilians as Shelling by Ukrainian Forces Intensifies
Meanwhile, Russia said it was very concerned about the escalation in Donbass.
"The latest reports from the ground in Eastern Ukraine are very concerning to us. We are extremely worried that the civilian population of that part of Ukraine is enduring such sufferings, such risks. The indiscriminate shellings are not acceptable and result in the destruction of civilian infrastructure and people’s homes. This is unacceptable and it should be stopped," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin told reporters on Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday instructed the Emergency Situation Ministry to provide assistance to the southern region of Rostov amid an unprecedented influx of refugees coming from eastern Ukraine.
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