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MOSCOW, February 11. /TASS/. The basic provisions the four-nation Normandy format summit meeting in Minsk is expected to reaffirm on Wednesday look as follows - ceasefire, creation of a demilitarized zone in the south-east of Ukraine, and pullout of heavy armaments, polled experts have told TASS. They have described the forthcoming meeting of the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France as the most important chance so far for achieving peace in Donbass.
After last Friday’s visit he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid to Moscow French President Francois Hollande told the media that a future Minsk agreement, which is still being drafted, would envisage establishment of a 50-70-kilometer wide demilitarized zone. This would leave Ukrainian troops and militias no chance to deal artillery and mortar strikes against each other. Also, Ukraine’s eastern regions might be offered wider autonomy.
"For Moscow and for the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics the main expectation is a stop to the bombardments of cities in Donbass by the Ukrainian army and the National Guard, which some Western countries tend to ignore or connive with. In response to the cessation of bombardments the militias might be prepared to halt their offensive against the Ukrainian armed forces," the director of the Institute of Political Studies, Civic Chamber member Sergey Markov told TASS. "This first level of compromise envisages tactical armistice, pullout of heavy armaments to locations far enough to guarantee the safety of civilians, creation of a demilitarized zone and continued monitoring of the frontline."
"The second level of settlement efforts Moscow and the Donetsk and Luhansk republics want to see, which may follow in case the Minsk summit is a success will be an end to Kiev’s economic and humanitarian blockade of Donbas. As a reciprocal measure Kiev would demand Donbas should hold elections in compliance with Ukrainian legislation. It remains unclear whether Donetsk and Luhansk will agree to this," Markov said.
"The third, strategic level of negotiations in all of the existing formats would be the conclusion of a lasting peace arrangement. On the face of it all parties to the negotiating process, including Germany and France, as well as the United States, which has no official presence at the talks, though, profess commitment to peace. But in reality the warmongers in Kiev have no wish to see the restoration of peace at all, because in that case they will run the risk of being brought to justice for war crimes against civilians, for using prohibited means of warfare, for the shooting of demonstrators in Kiev, and for the victims of violence burned alive in Odessa on May 2."
"The summit of the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine in Minsk is not the format where the details of an exit from crisis are to be discussed. What the world is looking forward to these days is the conclusion of a new ceasefire agreement by the conflicting parties, the demarcation of the frontline and the pullout of heavy artillery. It will be very good, if the agreement is formalized at such a high level. It is very unlikely that much more can be achieved at this point. A future status of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics, elections and the lifting of the economic blockade - all such matters are decided not at summit meetings, but at different levels," the general director of the Russian Council for International Affairs, Andrey Kortunov, told TASS.
"The need for stopping the war now is more than obvious, because further hostilities would bring about nothing but degradation. War is unable to give either side the decisive advantage. The very level where the attempts at achieving a settlement are being made at the summit in Minsk is the highest possible," believes the president of the Foreign and Defense Policy Council, Fyodor Lukyanov.
"If the leaders of Russia, Germany and France persuade the Ukrainian president to pull heavy artillery pieces with calibers larger than 100 millimeters 25-30 kilometers away from the demarcation line would be quite enough for a start. When the barbaric bombardments of cities and communities are terminated, it would be possible to enter into political negotiations on ways of settling the crisis. Then the question of official control of the border between Russia and Ukraine will stop to be the stumbling block at the talks," the director of the Centre for Military-Political Studies at the Moscow institute of international relations MGIMO, Alexey Podberyozkin told TASS.
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