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Jens Stoltenberg: I urge Russia to end its support for the separatists

NATO Secretary General

Jens Stoltenberg: I urge Russia to end its support for the separatists

Today, February 18, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attended an informal meeting of European Union defense ministers in Riga, Latvia.

The official website of NATO provides the opening remarks by Jens Stoltenberg regarding Donbas conflict and situation in the city of Debaltseve.

"We also spoke about the conflict in Ukraine. The Minsk agreement is the best opportunity for a lasting peaceful solution. What really matters now is implementation of the ceasefire and the Minsk agreement," Stoltenberg said.

"Today I am deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in and around Debaltseve. The refusal of the separatists to respect the cease-fire threatens the agreement. As does their denial of access to the area for the OSCE monitors. Russian forces, artillery and air defence units as well as command and control elements are still active in Ukraine."

"Russia has supported the separatists with forces, training and advanced weapons. And there has been a steady buildup of tanks and armoured vehicles across the border from Russia to Ukraine. I urge Russia to end its support for the separatists. And withdraw its forces and military equipment from eastern Ukraine in accordance with the Minsk agreement.

The separatists should halt all attacks immediately. And allow OSCE monitors full access. I support the call by the UN Security Council to all parties to implement their Minsk commitments.

We continue to believe that this agreement is the best way forward to a political solution to the conflict in Ukraine."