MOSCOW, September 18. /TASS/. Ukraine’s leadership continues to distort ceasefire agreements reached in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, in February, a senior deputy of the Russian lower house of parliament said on Friday.
Leonid Slutsky, chairing the State Duma committee on Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs (CIS), Eurasian Integration and Ties with Compatriots, told a meeting at the State Duma: "Unfortunately, nothing has changed for the better in Ukraine. They continue to distort the Minsk agreements."
Slutsky said it had been clearly set out in the document, signed by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, that Ukraine’s constitution was to include provisions on specific elements of decentralization agreed with representatives of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
"The Minsk agreements said that all this should be outlined in the constitution of Ukraine with the concurrence of Donetsk and Luhansk," the lawmaker said, noting that the Kiev authorities instead had added an interim provision on the special order of local self-government in parts of the two eastern regions.
"In his address to the Verkhovna Rada on August 31, [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko claimed that Moscow was allegedly worried that it had not received what it wanted," Slutsky said. "I should emphasise that Moscow wants only one thing: Kiev’s unwavering observance of its commitments under the Minsk agreements."
The deputy recalled that talks on the issue would continue in Paris on October 2 in the ‘Normandy format’ of Russian, Ukrainian, German and French leaders.
The February 12 peace deal, announced after more than 16 hours of discussions between Vladimir Putin, Petro Poroshenko, Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel in Minsk, envisaged immediate and full bilateral ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militia starting from February 15.
This was to be followed by withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of military engagement by at least 15 kilometres (9 miles), prisoner release and agreement for international observers to monitor the truce.
Based on September’s stillborn Minsk peace protocol, the deal also laid out a road map for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give the war-torn eastern regions more autonomy.
A key element of reform is decentralisation of government, recognising the wish for independence in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and adopting permanent legislation establishing special status and self-rule in certain Donbas areas.