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MOSCOW, March 20. /TASS/. - The Ukrainian parliament’s resolution to introduce special administration rules in the territories of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics only after elections have been held there in compliance with Ukrainian laws jeopardises implementation of the Minsk peace settlement and is fraught with new escalation of the conflict, polled experts told TASS.
Agreement to effect the ceasefire and the pullback of heavy weapons from the disengagement line between the conflicting parties is to be followed by political reform and the granting of a special status to some areas of Donbass, was achieved at negotiations by the Normandy Quartet’s leaders on February 12.
At the same time, the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday declared these territories as "temporarily occupied", adding that this special status will stay in effect "until all illegal armed groups and military equipment, as well as groups of militants and mercenaries have left Ukrainian territory and Kiev has regained full control of the state border".
Heads of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics have urged the Normandy Quartet’s leaders to force Kiev to change its mind. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that the Verkhovna Rada’s resolution "as a matter of fact is a re-writing of the Minsk accords, in other words, their crude violation."
A member of Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council, Maxim Shevchenko, currently touring Donbass, told TASS that judging by the Rada’s resolution, the Ukrainian authorities were utterly unaware of what was really happening in the east of the country.
"People of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics are adamant in their refusal to hold elections on instructions from Kiev, which has for nearly a year waged war against the Russian-speaking population. It is impossible to force several million people to obey the Rada’s resolution. By setting preposterously unrealistic conditions on Donbass, Kiev in fact disrupts the Minsk accords," Shevchenko said.
"The Donetsk and Luhansk republics will now be healing the scars of war and strengthening their independence. In the meantime, the warmongers in Kiev, once they have recovered from the defeats suffered in clashes with the militias near Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo, will start getting ready to mount another offensive," he warned.
Director of the Political Studies Institute Sergey Markov agrees that the Ukrainian parliament’s resolution is a disruption of part of the Minsk accords. "One should be aware that the decision was made not by President Poroshenko, or Prime Minister Yatsenyuk or parliament, but an external centre of Ukraine’s administration, located in the United States.
"What kind of argument can Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande address Barack Obama with? Naturally, they keep quiet in response to Kiev’s outright violations of the Minsk accords the Normandy Quartet had agreed on," Markov said.
"My contacts with Ukrainian experts are telling me that Kiev is pushing ahead with preparations for a resumption of combat operations in the east of Ukraine in early May in order to overshadow celebrations of the 70th V-Day anniversary in Moscow. President Poroshenko has declared in public that Ukraine was purchasing weapons from the European Union, and US instructors, according to Pentagon statements, will start training Ukrainian national guardsmen in April. The military scenario is still on the agenda," Markov warns.
Director for International Development at the Institute of Modern Development Sergey Kulik agrees that the threat of a resumption of hostilities in eastern Ukraine is still there. "The Minsk peace process is stalled. Both Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande are well aware of that. None of the experts’ councils for a settlement of the Ukrainian crisis that have been meeting these days have been heard make any constructive proposals for implementing the political part of the Minsk accords," he said.
"Kiev does not recognise the Donetsk and Luhansk republics and refuses to co-ordinate their actions with the militias’ leaders. The only sensible way out of the current situation may be to freeze the conflict along the current disengagement line in the hope the conflicting parties will gradually succeed to negotiate terms of political reform," Kulik told TASS.