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Ukraine

Russia drafts UN resolution on Ukraine, begins Baltic maneuvers

Russia is set to submit a draft UN resolution about a roadmap to peace in Ukraine, state media has reported. At the same time, though, Russian troops have begun Baltic military exercises in response to NATO maneuvers.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted by Russian state news agencies as saying on Thursday that Moscow was set to introduce a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council

"We have instructed our UN envoy in New York, Vitaly Churkin, to submit a draft resolution to the Security Council on the situation in Ukraine," Lavrov told the state-run Itar-Tass news agency.

"That is because the lack of any progress in the efforts to end the violence ... is causing growing concern," he said.

Lavrov said the draft would not include a provision for Russia to send peacekeeping troops into Ukraine.

Moscow urges Kyiv to move first

Ukrainian rebels have suggested that Russia should send peacekeepers, but Moscow says that could only be done with UN authorization. Instead, Lavrov said a political the Ukrainian government should be working towards a political solution.

"We know that the rebels in the southeast are ready to hold fire, but the first step should be made by the Kiev authorities," said Lavrov.

Ukraine and Western nations have accused Russia of fomenting the unrest in eastern Ukraine, where Kyiv is fighting to subdue a separatist uprising. Moscow has denied it has agents in Ukraine and that it supplies the rebels with weapons, although the exact degree to which it has contact with them remains unclear. Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to strengthen border controls with Ukraine, amid concerns the frontier was being used to smuggle across weapons and armed fighters.

Talks between Russia and Ukraine aimed at resolving an ongoing dispute over gas supply came to an end on Wednesday, with both sides accused each other of intransigence after they failed to reach an agreement.

Baltic exercises begin

Meanwhile, in a statement on its website, the Russian Defense Ministry said it had begun military exercises in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad. It added that this was in response to drills being held by NATO allies in eastern Europe.

"The training of the army's group in the Kaliningrad operational (theater) is being held simultaneously with the international exercises…," the statement said.

The ministry said 24 ships from Moscow's Baltic fleet were patrolling Russian territorial waters in the region, and that extra Su-27 jets had been sent there to strengthen air defenses.

rc/pfd (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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