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Moscow explains stance on peacekeepers in Ukraine

A peacekeeping mission of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) could eventually be deployed in the “liberated” regions of Ukraine, the head of Russia’s State Duma Defense Committee Andrey Kartapolov said Monday.

“It cannot be ruled out that peacekeepers from the CSTO countries will be needed in the liberated territories of Ukraine, as well as the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics,” Kartapolov told reporters.

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The CSTO is a Moscow-led regional security organization, which brings together six post-Soviet countries: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. Earlier this year, the bloc’s peacekeepers were briefly deployed in Kazakhstan after the country’s authorities requested assistance from the CSTO amid a wave of violent unrest.

Moscow is “unlikely to agree that some NATO countries would try to creep in there under the guise of peacekeeping,” the official stressed. Still, it’s too early to talk about a peacekeeping mission while the hostilities between Moscow and Kiev are ongoing, but “different variants may be possible at the post-conflict stage,” Kartapolov continued.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

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The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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