'Solution to Ukraine conflict won't be found in near future'
The escalating Ukraine conflict with Russia will not be resolved "in the near future," Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Anne Linde said on Friday.
Linde, who is also Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE), was speaking at the two-day 28th OSCE Ministerial Council in Stockholm. Preventing conflict and easing the tension in Ukraine were two of the most important topics on the agenda, with talks winding up on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.
However, despite intense discussions at the event, which should be followed by direct communication between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, no solution to the tensions is to be expected "in the near future," Linde told the Swedish TT news agency on Friday.
Russia and Ukraine are "too far apart," she noted. However, although she said that tensions had not cooled off, she believed that "the clarity that has been shown has made them think twice before doing anything."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Twitter that "it's high time to transform the right words into long-term, legally binding security guarantees -- this is an imperative condition to prevent a slide into a confrontational scenario."
Meanwhile, the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the OSCE Tweeted that the Minsk Package of Measures from February 2015 must be fully implemented, saying that this would help to significantly improve the humanitarian situation in the war-torn Donbass.
On Thursday, Lavrov discussed the Ukraine issue on the sidelines of the Council with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Lavrov demanded "long-term security guarantees" that NATO will not expand eastwards, and a legally binding promise that Ukraine will not be allowed to join the organisation.
The ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed the lives of some 13,000 people and left as many as 30,000 wounded, began in April 2014.
With the mediation of the international community, the conflicting parties reached a ceasefire agreement in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, in September 2014 and February 2015 respectively. Since then, large-scale armed conflicts have been brought under control, but small-scale exchanges of fire have occurred from time to time. -IANS
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