MOSCOW, June 22. /TASS/. The Kremlin knows nothing about rumored US plans for getting plugged into the activities of the Normandy Quartet (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) for settling the situation in Ukraine.
"As far as the possibility the Americans might join the Normandy format is concerned, I’ve heard nothing about that so far," presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told the media.
Ushakov noted that the leaders of the Normandy Four countries (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) would continue their contacts over the phone, although talks in this format are not planned in the next three days.
"As for current issues, the leaders all the same discuss them in the Normandy format over the phone. There are intentions to hold further such discussions," he said.
The presidential aide said such talks were not announced in advance as "they are agreed in the process, literally a day or two before they are held."
"So far, as far as I know, no such telephone contacts are planned in the next three days," Ushakov said, adding that President Vladimir Putin would be paying visits to Uzbekistan and China these days.
According to the official, the timeframe for the meeting of the Normandy Four leaders is not being discussed in practical terms now as there are no preconditions for it.
"No one is discussing in a practical regime the timeframe of such a summit," Ushakov said.
The preconditions are needed for the summit to end in the adoption of a document and to bring practical results for setting the Ukrainian crisis. "So far the preconditions for such successful work have not been created," he said.
Ushakov said an active work is currently underway in the Normandy format (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) at the level of experts. The Russian side is represented there by Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov.
"This work is underway amid a rather unconstructive behavior of the Ukrainian side. All this now is not creating preconditions for holding the summit in the near future," Ushakov stressed.
The Kremlin has also confirmed that Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov will meet US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland in Moscow on June 23.
"Yes, it is planned on Thursday," Ushakov said, answering a question if the Surkov-Nuland meeting was planned in Moscow.
The agreement to establish a permanent dialogue with the United States on Ukraine was reached during US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Moscow last December.
On January 15, 2016, the first meeting between Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov and US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was held in a state residence belonging to the Russian president’s property management department in the town of Pionersky near the city of Kaliningrad, Russia’s westernmost exclave bordering on Lithuania and Poland. "We had rather detailed, constructive and useful consultations. It was a sort of brainstorming towards compromises for the implementation of the Minsk agreements," he said then.
According to him, "Some ideas were voiced on a number of sensitive issues, such as the constitutional reform (in Ukraine), security and elections. There were also ideas that can be discussed by the Contact Group and in the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine] format," he said.
According to US State Department Spokesman John Kirby, the Surkov-Nuland meeting continued the contacts, which had started during negotiations of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Moscow on December 15, 2015.
Nuland’s most recent visit to Moscow took place on May 18. She said then after the consultations that the United States would be working in parallel with the Normandy Four in order to secure the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Nuland also confirmed Washington’s readiness to play the most active part in this process.
The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising senior representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the European security watchdog OSCE on February 12, 2015, signed a 13-point Package of Measures to fulfil the September 2014 Minsk agreements. The package was agreed with the leaders of the Normandy Four, namely Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine.
The Package of Measures, known as Minsk-2, envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk starting from February 15 and subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement. The deal also laid out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.