Russia offers UN resolution on election talks with Ukraine rebels

A woman walks under a billboard featuring a picture of the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko (C) and reading: "we are grateful to the defenders of the fatherland" in Donetsk, Ukraine, March 18, 2015 (AFP Photo/John MacDougall) (AFP/File)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - Russia proposed a UN Security Council draft resolution Thursday asking Kiev to "immediately start consultations" with pro-Russian separatists on elections within their eastern Ukraine strongholds.

The Russian text cites a paragraph from a February peace accord, which "provides for discussion and agreement on questions related to local elections in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions."

The Russian proposal comes after Ukraine Tuesday ratified two bills for greater autonomy in its troubled rebel-held east, where 11 months of fighting between the Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces have killed more than 6,000 people.

Russia argues that the Ukrainian legislation is not in line with the February peace deal aimed at ending the regional fighting, and objects to Kiev's requirement that before winning autonomy the separatists must hold local elections under Ukrainian law.

In the resolution Russia called on Kiev to "immediately start consultations with the representatives of relevant areas."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday the move by Ukraine "grossly violates" the February agreement made in Minsk.

"Kiev is looking to replace practically all elected officials with someone else," he said.

But Ukraine maintains that the law is not in violation of the Minsk agreement.

The Russian proposal has little chance for success given tensions between Western council members and Russia since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis.

Lithuanian UN Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite said that she was "taken by surprise" by the text, which she called "very one-sided."

"The illegal militants have long rejected the Minsk agreements... Ukraine is the only side working to implement the Minsk agreement" she said about the peace accord.