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Russian lawmaker: current policy of NATO decreases chances for success of Minsk Agreements

July 25, 2016, 4:50 UTC+3 MOSCOW

"The Ukrainian leadership is, unfortunately, not interested in implementing the Minsk Agreements," Konstantin Kosachev said

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Konstantin Kosachev

Konstantin Kosachev

© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

MOSCOW, July 25. /TASS/. Chances for timely implementation of the Minsk Agreements are shrinking with the current policy of the European Union (EU) and NATO, chairman of Russian Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev said in an interview published in the Izvestiya newspaper on Monday.

"With the current policy of the West - NATO countries, European Union countries - chances for timely implementation of the Minsk Agreements are not growing but, unfortunately, shrinking instead," Kosachev said.

The implementation of the Minsk accords is possible only "if the West tells Kiev that non-implementation of the Minsk Agreements on time will lead to consequences of sanctions for Ukraine, if the existing modality of West’s actions is broken when every non-implementation of the Minsk Agreements is blamed only on Russia," he added. "This is not happening so far. Kiev is free to act, to openly sabotage the Minsk Agreements," the lawmaker stressed.

"The Ukrainian leadership is, unfortunately, not interested in implementing the Minsk Agreements," he added. Both Russia and EU are interested in the implementation of the Minsk accords while Ukraine "has its advantages and disadvantages in in the issue of fulfilling" them, he concluded.

The Minsk Agreements were signed on 12 February 2015, after negotiations in the so-called "Normandy format" in the Belarusian capital Minsk, bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko. The package of measures envisages ceasefire, weaponry withdrawal, prisoner exchange, local election in Donbass, constitutional reform in Ukraine and establishing working sub-groups on security, political, economy and humanitarian components of the Minsk accords.

Russia-NATO Council hardly effective in current form

The Russia-NATO Council (RNC) is hardly effective in its current form and looks like a mechanism for consultations rather than a council, Kosachev said.

"There is no doubt that such mechanism is better than no mechanism at all. However, it hardly effective in its current form," Kosachev said commenting on resumption of Russia-NATO Council sessions.

He reminded that RNC was established for the reasons that "died out at its first session." "It was established on the principle of equality - not 1 plus 28, but 29 equal participants, and every side has the right for its own position that does not necessarily coincide with NATO’s position," the lawmaker explained.

"If it worked not even as a mechanism of decision-making but as a discussion club, if Russia talked to separate countries there - US, Turkey, Poland, Estonia, anyone else - maybe the prospect of real dialogue would emerge," he said. "For now, this is the mechanism of contacts between Russia on one side and NATO on the other said. This a mere consultation mechanism, not a council," he concluded.

The last RNC took place in Brussels on July 13. The sides discussed settlement in Ukraine, decreasing the risks of military incidents in the world and key results of the NATO summit on July 8-9.

Positions of Russia, US on categorizing terrorist groups in Syria closer

The positions of Russia and United States on groups in Syria that should be considered terrorist, are coming closer, Kosachev said.

"They (positions of US and Russia) have not converged yet but there is a meaningful conversation on this matter which has not happened before," Kosachev said. "We were earlier offered to accept only the classification of events that was acceptable for the United States and their allies. Everything that Russia offered in return was not considered, rejected. As of now, we are comparing facts, comparing assessments, lists," he added.

The lawmaker noted that this is a very difficult process. "Any ambiguity in questions on whether the current Syrian authorities are legitimate or not, on which groups should be considered as moderate opposition and which groups should be considered as malicious terrorists, will only reproduce prerequisites for continuing the Syrian tragedy," Kosachev said commenting on the recent airstrike that the US-led coalition delivered at the town of Manbij in Syria killing at least 10 people.

"Russia’s actions are much more legally and morally pure because we do not interfere into Syria’s internal affairs. We do not take anybody’s side but clearly pursue the aim of countering terrorism. Those who are fighting in Syria in the framework of the US-led coalition do not hide that they have many more aims, and one of them is regime change. So here is the principal difference between our actions and actions of our potential, but definitely not yet real partners," the lawmaker explained.

He also noted that concrete agreements on Syrian settlement were reached at the recent meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US State Secretary John Kerry. "They are currently at the stage of final coordination so that they can be implemented in practice - there are many additional details. Since there is a general agreement not to disclose any details, let me adhere to that as well," Kosachev said. He also noted that there are no principal changes in Russia’s position on the ground operation in Syria. "The ground operation is carried out exclusively by Syrian Armed Forces," he concluded.

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