By Satoshi Iizuka
TOKYO, March 3, Kyodo
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin on Tuesday called for international military assistance as fighting continues between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia separatists in the eastern part of the country despite a cease-fire agreement.
"We have already a number of countries which have been assisting us in training for our military. It's important as a backdrop of the necessity to counter attacks from the terrorism of Donetsk and Luhansk continuously supported by the Russian side," Klimkin said at a press conference in Tokyo.
The foreign minister praised the countries providing assistance to the Ukrainian military, referring to "U.S. experts and advisers" as well as Britain and Canada.
He underlined the importance of enhancing Ukraine's "defensive capability" and denied Kiev intends to launch fresh attacks against the pro-Russia rebels.
The cease-fire agreement, struck last month by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine in Minsk, Belarus, demands the withdrawal of heavy weapons by both sides. The deal for a cease-fire from Feb. 15 also calls for the granting of special status to the east Ukraine areas.
The 47-year-old minister accused Moscow of assisting the pro-Russian separatists, alleging Russia provides troops, money and heavy weapons.
"The ultimate precondition for any effective final settlement is to fully close down the Ukrainian-Russian border," he added.
The minister also said the current situation in Donetsk and Luhansk is "very difficult and tense."
"We are fully committed to a Minsk agreement from September and February. We need both representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk, and of course Russia, to be committed to this agreement," he said, referring to an earlier cease-fire agreement.
During his two-day visit to Japan from Monday, Klimkin held talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.