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Russia's top diplomat says Normandy Four meeting was useful

June 12, 0:06 updated at: June 12, 2:57 UTC+3

Human rights representatives of Russia and Ukraine are in contact on the matter of detainees’ release, Sergey Lavrov said

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© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

BERLIN, June 12. /TASS/. The ministerial meeting of the Normandy Four [Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France] was very useful, although not all problems were managed to be resolved, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

"Certainly, we have not managed to solve all problems related to performance of Minsk Agreements on settlement of the internal Ukrainian crisis. I believe nevertheless that the meeting was very useful," the Minister noted after talks.

Ministers "again considered the whole situation - in the sphere of security, the sphere of political reforms, the sphere of economy and humanitarian problems," Lavrov added.

Human rights representatives of Russia and Ukraine are in contact on the matter of detainees’ release, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday after at the meeting of foreign ministers of the Normandy Four participants [Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France].

"We confirmed the priority of settling humanitarian problems and paying attention to talks on conditions of releasing detainees. This was the topic discussed by Putin and Poroshenko, when the President of Ukraine called the President of Russia when Vladimir Putin was in China," Lavrov told reporters.

"Special envoys for human rights are in contact after the talks [between presidents of Russia and Ukraine - TASS] and attempt to make a roadmap for solution of matters concerning the release of detainees," the minister noted.

"Certainly, the difference should be made here between those arrested exclusively because of their trade, such as your colleague [journalist Kirill] Vyshinsky accused of state treason in Ukraine and those really suspected of and charged with unlawful actions," Lavrov added.

Steinmeier Formula

Germany and France supported Russia’s position about the need for legal formalization of the Steinmeier Formula, anticipating introduction of a law on a special procedure of local government in specific districts of Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday after at the meeting of foreign ministers of the Normandy Four participants [Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France].

"Our Ukrainian colleagues do not allow this formula, this agreement on leaders to be put on paper and acquire any legal significance until now. We talked about this today as well and our French and German colleagues supported us in this aspect," Lavrov said.

I hope signals we are relaying to the outside world from this place now will produce an effect," the minister said. This relates in the first instance to agreements made by leaders of the Normandy Four states.

The topic of the UN peacekeeping mission in Donbass was discussed at the meeting of foreign ministers of the Normandy Four participants [Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France], Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

"Yes, UN peacekeepers were discussed," the Russian minister said. "The Russian position is crystal clear. We have a proposal introduced last September to the UN Security Council and aimed at providing UN security for observers working through OSCE," Lavrov said.

At the same time, Ukraine continues insisting on the US variant of the UN mission in Donbass, which ruins Minsk Agreements completely, Lavrov noted. "We explained that ideas put forward by US and Ukrainian representatives to convert this peacekeeping mission into a sort of military-political commandant’s headquarters to take control over the whole territory of proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk Republics and which will decide on its own, who will be elected and in what way, completely ruins Minsk Agreements," the Russian minister said. "It seems to me that the French and the German understand our logic," he added.

Disengagement of forces in Donbass

Foreign ministers of the Normandy Four participants [Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France] discussed specific steps on normalizing the security situation in Donbass, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

"We have discussed today the need for specific steps to normalize the situation in the security sphere in Donbass," the Russian minister said. "We called attention to the fact that leaders of the Normandy format personally dealt with this situation in October 2016 and agreed upon disengagement of forces and means of parties in three settlements - Petrovskoye, Zolotoye, and Stanitsa Luganskaya - and this agreement has not been fulfilled yet," Lavrov said.

Such actions were made in Petrovskoye and Zolotoye, the minister noted. "However, Ukrainian forces have returned since then into these so-called ‘gray zones’," Lavrov said.

"As far as Lugansk is concerned, we have focused attention today on the demand of Ukraine, the Ukrainian government, to start disengagement only in case of seven days of absolute silence, full compliance with the ceasefire," the Russian Foreign Minister said.

Facts and evidence were presented during the meeting that the OSCE monitoring mission "recorded periods of full compliance with the ceasefire regime of seven days and more," Lavrov said. "Despite this, the Ukrainian side refuses to perform agreements of the Normandy format leaders on disengagement of forces and means," he added.

Firmness of Minsk Agreements

Foreign ministers of the Normandy Four participants [Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France] confirmed firmness of Minsk Agreements, although Moscow still has questions regarding their performance by Kiev Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

"Confirmation of firmness of Minsk Agreements by all participants in today’s meeting is of fundamental importance, although we certainly have questions regarding the attitude of Ukrainian colleagues towards these agreements," Lavrov said.

Meetings at the ministerial level are useful, although discussions of implementation of Minsk Agreement are taking place not merely within the framework of foreign ministries, but also through foreign policy advisers to presidents of three countries and the chancellor of Germany, Lavrov noted. "These contacts [of advisers - TASS] continue; we proactively support them," he added.

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