Ukraine to propose OSCE police in latest Donbass peace push: sources

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine will propose sending 1,500 police officers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to patrol the conflict zone in the east of the country in a new peace initiative, two sources told Reuters on Friday.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s administration also wants an international audit of property its citizens lost as a result of the conflict, and a repeal of a Russian move in 2019 that fast-tracked citizenship procedures for people living in the Donbass region.

Ukraine has been battling Russian-backed separatist forces in Donbass in a conflict that erupted in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and killed more than 13,000 people.

Zelenskiy made ending the conflict a priority after taking office in 2019. A ceasefire agreement in 2015 staunched the worst of the fighting but international OSCE monitors still record ceasefire violations.

Ukraine will push for the Donbass region to be demilitarised as a precursor to holding elections there.

“For this, it is proposed to create a special unit of up to 1,500 professional policemen within the OSCE SMM [Special Monitoring Mission],” one of the sources said.

The OSCE could not be reached for immediate comment. The OSCE has previously considered sending armed monitors or police to Donbass, but only if there was consensus on all sides.

Zelenskiy wants to push for a lasting peace settlement at a new round of four-way talks with Russia, France and Germany, but no date has been fixed for such a meeting. The last round happened in Paris last December.

Ukraine says Russia engineered quasi-separatist uprisings across a belt of eastern Ukraine in 2014 that escalated into a full-scale war. Moscow denies the accusation.

Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Alex Richardson