70 Russian general staff officers are helping maintain contact between Kiev and the forces of the self-proclaimed republics
- They're there as per a Russian-Ukrainian agreement from September 2014
- They're needed because Ukrainians refuse to deal with rebels directly
- Kiev wants their mediation but does not want to acknowledge their presence in public
MOSCOW, April 30, (TASS) - A total of 70 Russian officers have been working in Ukraine’s south-east since September 2014 under an agreement between the Russian and Ukrainian General Staffs of Armed Forces, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper published on Thursday.
"They are from the representative office of Russia’s Defense Ministry in the Joint ceasefire control and coordination center and stabilization of contact line between the sides," he said adding that the JCCC also comprises the representatives of Ukraine’s military and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.
"And our officers are working there at the request of the Ukrainian side. But Kiev does not want to acknowledge this in public," the official said. They are working directly in the security zone set up along the contact line of Ukraine’s units and armed groups of the LPR and DPR.
The Russian officers help to maintain contact between Kiev and the forces of the self-proclaimed republics, he added, explaining that the Ukrainian side does not want to directly communicate with the representatives of the LPR and DPR.
"That’s why our servicemen are in fact mediators or peacekeepers. The joint center was created with the goal of assisting the implementation of the Minsk agreements on resolving the crisis in Ukraine," he said.
The center’s major task is to monitor and provide assistance to the conflicting parties in ensuring stable ceasefire, in withdrawing weapons from the contact line and in maintaining peace.
The JCCC cooperates with the representatives of the Special Monitoring Mission of the OSCE in Ukraine. In case of ceasefire violations, the Russian officers together with the representatives of the OSCE mission come to the scene and register the facts when the weapons were used.