Possible withdrawal of forces, equipment in Stanytsia Luhanska may lead to conflict escalation – ex-deputy head of Luhansk Regional State Administration
In the event of the withdrawal of forces and equipment in the vicinity of the settlement of Stanytsia Luhanska, Thermal Power Station of Luhansk (town of Schastia) and a bridge that connects the occupied and unoccupied territory of Luhansk region will fall under fire, and an escalation of the conflict may occur in this region, Iryna Verihina, ex-head of the Luhansk regional state administration has said.
"I remember how we defended every piece of land in Stanytsia Luhanska in 2014. And now it is just a strategic object, and it's simply impossible to withdraw forces there because the Thermal Power Station in the village of Schastia will fall under fire. And we will completely surrender the bridge that today is "the bridge of life" that connects the occupied territory of Luhansk region and unoccupied territory. Thus, we will surrender a part of our territory, and this will lead to an escalation of the conflict," Verihina told on the 112.Ukraine TV channel on Monday.
She also recalled that earlier agreements were reached on opening a checkpoint in the settlement of Zolote, but this has not happened yet. "Why? As on the other side [occupied territory of Luhansk region] the road that is now occupied, has been mined, and there is Russian equipment there. And no one wants the OSCE to keep records of this Russian equipment in the territory that is captured by the militants," she said.
At the same time, she said, the observers of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission indicated in the last report that the Ukrainian-Russian border is constantly being violated by the occupied territory, and military equipment and people were recorded.
As reported, on August 12, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recalled that during the Normandy Four summits in Paris in 2015 and in Berlin in 2016, an agreement was reached and three settlements were identified on the map in which the disengagement of forces and means was to take place. According to him, such a disengagement took place in the first two settlements, while in the third (Stanytsia Luhanska) it didn't take place. He laid the blame for the delay in disengagement of forces in Stanytsia Luhanska on the Ukrainian side, which, in his opinion, is looking for any excuses so that it does not take place.
Verihina was acting head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration in May-September, 2014.