From Lalit K Jha Washington, Mar 4: In a bid to put more pressure on Russia over the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the Western powers have called for a "strong" reaction from the world community in case of any major violation of a ceasefire.
The leaders of the US, Germany, France, Britain and Italy and EU held a conference call yesterday over the Ukraine issue and reiterated their support for a February 12 truce between government forces and pro-Russian separatists.
"They agreed that a strong reaction from the international community would be necessary in the case of a major violation in the implementation" of the deal signed in the Belarus capital Minsk, a statement said after the call.
"They reaffirmed their support for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine as expressed in the Implementation Plan agreed to on February 12 and the Minsk agreements signed in September 2014," the White House said. The video conference call was attended by US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and European Council President Donald Tusk.
"They condemned the attack on Debaltseve by Russia and the separatists it backs that immediately followed and violated the February 12 Minsk Implementation Plan. The leaders called on all parties to cease all military action, cooperate with the OSCE so that its monitors can verify a full pull back of heavy weapons and complete the exchange of all prisoners," the White House said in a statement.
"They emphasised their support for the OSCE and the need for its monitors to have full and unfettered access to the entire area of conflict, and they discussed ways to strengthen OSCE monitoring activities," the statement said. During the call, the leaders expressed their hope for the successful and complete implementation of the Minsk agreements and agreed that the easing of current sanctions would be linked to the full implementation of these agreements.
They also affirmed their determination to act quickly and in unison to impose significant additional costs, if serious violations of the Minsk agreements occur or if Russian-backed separatists seek to gain new territory.
According to the White House, the leaders welcomed the Ukrainian parliament's passage of an ambitious package of reforms and reiterated their commitment to work alongside international partners to provide Ukraine with the financial assistance it needs to stabilise its economy.
"They also discussed the continuing violence in Libya and the terrorist threat from ISIL and agreed on the need to consult further on ways to address this threat and support a political resolution of the conflict in Libya," the White House said.