MOSCOW, March 30 — The Kremlin today blamed Kiev for failing to implement peace agreements in eastern Ukraine and said progress to resolve the conflict with separatists was backtracking as fighting intensifies.
Kiev’s army has been at war with Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country since 2014 when Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula following a bloody uprising that ousted Ukraine’s Kremlin-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych.
France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia together comprise the Normandy format of countries which have sought to resolve the conflict and in 2015 agreed the Minsk accords to de-escalate the fighting.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last July oversaw the beginning of a ceasefire with the separatists that had brought relative calm until an uptick in fighting earlier this year.
“With the Normandy format, things are bad,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with Russian weekly newspaper Argumenty i Fakty published on Tuesday.
“It can be said that under President Zelensky, it hasn’t been possible to make any progress in the implementation of both the Minsk package of measures and the subsequent agreements that were reached in Paris.”
Zelensky was elected in 2019 on promises to end the conflict, but critics say that the shaky ceasefire is his only tangible achievement and talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris in December, 2019 brought the sides no closer to a lasting settlement.
At least 16 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed since fighting escalated in mid-February and Kiev has accused Moscow and separatists of using banned military hardware.
“Now we’re seeing an escalation in tensions along the frontline,” Peskov said.
“Modest achievements that were made earlier are being negated.”
The fighting has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014, according to the United Nations.
Russia denies sending troops and arms to support the separatists. — AFP