DONETSK, December 16. /TASS. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement on support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine confirms Moscow’s noninvolvement in processes in Donbas (eastern Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions), self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Foreign Minister Alexander Kofman said Tuesday.
“This once again confirms that Russia is not the initiator of local processes. We are fully responsible for what is going on here,” Kofman said. “Russia is not entitled to pose as a supporter of a split in a neighboring country. They may speak for preservation of the lives and dignity of the people of that state, but in no way for its split.”
“Ukraine as we recognize it now is territorially integral from the Russian point of view and should be supported in this form,” he said. Asked whether conducting a constitutional reform in Ukraine means granting a certain degree of autonomy for the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, Russia’s top diplomat said “this is for Ukrainians to decide.”
Besides, Kofman directly linked decreased shelling with the situation in Ukraine’s power industry.
“At this stage Kiev, which has for a long time laughed at Russia’s oil dependence, has itself become dependent on coal. Decreased shelling is connected with the fact that we refused to sell coal while shelling is underway here. We can now build relations from the position of strength: guys, if you don’t want to get cold in winter, don’t shoot,” he said.
The positions of Russia and Western nations on the Ukrainian developments differ radically. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the intra-Ukrainian crisis, but the West accuses Moscow of participation in clashes in Ukraine’s war-torn southeast and has subjected Russia to sanctions.According to the United Nations, more than 4,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April, to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics.
The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire at talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk.
The ceasefire took effect the same day but has reportedly been violated on numerous occasions. In another attempt by both parties to the Ukrainian conflict to put an end to hostilities, the "day of silence" in eastern Ukraine began at 09:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on December 9.