Pro-Russians will fight on if Ukraine peace talks fail: Zakharchenkov

Pro-Russians will fight on if Ukraine peace talks fail: Zakharchenkov

Thu Dec 25, 2014 10:1PM GMT

The leader of Ukraine’s self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic says fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia forces will continue in eastern Ukraine if current peace talks in Belarus fail to bear fruit.

Speaking at a press conference in Donetsk on Thursday, Alexander Zakharchenkov asserted that Kiev authorities are getting ready to wreck the negotiations in the Belarusian capital, Mink, and start a full-scale military offensive in the east of Ukraine.

“Judging by the [military] movement that is currently under way in Ukraine, they (Kiev) are preparing to intervene into our territory. The situation smacks of mid-July 1941. We completely understand that a lie is being told in regard to pulling back [heavy military] equipment…. We’re waiting,” Zakharchenko said.

He added that the recent shutdown of airports in major eastern Ukraine’s cities of Zaporizhia, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk were connected to Kiev’s receiving military aid from the West. The 38-year-old pro-Moscow noted that he thinks major battles are still ahead.

In mid-December, Ukraine’s State Air Traffic Service ordered the closure of Zaporizhia, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk airports, citing security reasons.

Some Ukrainian media reported that the airports were used to receive NATO military aid to the Ukrainian army.

On Wednesday, a preliminary meeting between representatives from the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia forces concluded in Minsk without any results.

The discussions, which are widely expected to include the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the conflict-stricken areas in eastern Ukraine and an exchange of war prisoners, are set to continue on Friday, when both parties involved in the conflict are expected to strike a final agreement.

A ceasefire agreement was signed between Kiev and the pro-Russians in Minsk on September 5, after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hammered out a compromise deal aimed at ending the heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine. The ceasefire entered into effect immediately.

However, the Ukrainian military and pro-Russians have repeatedly accused each other of violating the ceasefire.

The West accuses Moscow of supporting the pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine. Russia has strongly denied the allegation.

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