Norway deeply concerned about developments in eastern Ukraine

‘I am deeply concerned about developments in eastern Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are using increasingly heavy military equipment, which is resulting in loss of life and destruction of infrastructure. This is unacceptable,’ said Foreign Minister Børge Brende.

‘I am deeply concerned about developments in eastern Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are using increasingly heavy military equipment, which is resulting in loss of life and destruction of infrastructure. This is unacceptable,’ said Foreign Minister Børge Brende.

Last week, Ukrainian government forces initiated a major offensive, and have regained control of territory that had previously been under the control of pro-Russian separatists. The separatists have been driven back, and, according to reports, are regrouping in Donetsk and to some extent Luhansk. At least 25 Ukrainian soldiers are reported to have been killed in a rocket attack in Ukraine today. A total of 478 civilians have been killed in the hostilities over the last two months, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health.

‘Ukraine has the right to defend itself against acts of war by separatists. The separatists must lay down their weapons immediately. The foreign nationals among them must leave the country, and negotiations must be initiated with legitimate representatives of the people in eastern Ukraine,’ said Mr Brende.

It is Norway’s view that President Poroshenko’s peace plan is still the only way forward, and we support the work of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, which is made up of Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

‘I can’t see that Russia is helping to stabilise the situation as we had hoped and expected. Russia must immediately take steps to stop weapons and paramilitary forces from crossing the border, and use its influence over the rebel groups to bring the hostilities to an end.

The international community must provide assistance for the people of Donbass, but it is only the Ukrainian authorities in Kiev who have the right and duty to restore law and order in the area.

‘The people in the areas that are now being returned to the Ukrainian authorities’ control must receive the help they need as soon as possible. It is important that priority is given to improving relations between the central authorities and the local people in order to restore confidence. We expect both parties to do their utmost to prevent further loss of life and damage to property,’ said Mr Brende.