Moscow: Russia has sent a group of military officers to Ukraine’s Donetsk region at Kiev’s request to facilitate peaceful settlement of the crisis, Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces said Wednesday.

“Upon the request of commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Victor Muzhenko, representatives of Russian armed forces have been dispatched to Donetsk region,” Xinhua quoted Gerasimov as saying.

The group is to assist monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe(OSCE) to look for compromises between the conflicting sides in Ukraine’s eastern regions, he said.

The Russian and OSCE representatives will try to defuse tension there by persuading the sides to withdraw their heavy arms from the dividing line, which is not a smooth progress.

The current task now is to stop artillery shelling of the cities in Donbass, the local name given to eastern Ukraine, Gerasimov said.

The Ukrainian government and pro-independence rebels in Donetsk and Lugansk inked a ceasefire agreement Sep 5 in Minsk, capital of Belarus, at a meeting also attended by envoys from Russia and the OSCE.

Gerasimov blamed NATO and the US for “continuous external meddling in the domestic affairs of sovereign states throughout the year”.

The promotion of the so-called “hostile Russia” against the backdrop of the Ukrainian crisis has helped NATO justify its intensified military activities near Russian borders, Gerasimov said.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Kiev to bridge the gap in direct coordination with Lugansk and Donetsk regions as soon as possible.

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