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MOSCOW, December 25. /TASS/. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hopes a new round of talks of the Contact Group for settling the armed conflict in Ukraine will bring results in what concerns the pullback of heavy weaponry from the line of contact and exchange of prisoners under the ‘all for all’ principle.
He said it in an interview with the Moscow-based Kommersant daily.
“It is deeds not words that matter for us,” Lavrov said. “And as for the practical reality, we feel President Pyotr Poroshenko’s commitment to the Minsk agreements and his willingness to put them into practice, which he stated during a telephone conference with Presidents of Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany on December 22.”
He pointed out the complexity of transforming the Minsk agreements from the framework ones into practical steps.
“This is being done already and I hope the process is nearing completion in what concerns the final line of contact,” Lavrov said. “The pullback of heavy weapons is beginning and efforts on the ground involving the Ukrainian military and self-defence forces are underway with the assistance from the Russian officers who were sent there at President Poroshenko’s personal invitation.”
“I hope things will begin to move faster than they have been moving so far already in the coming few days,” he said. “At any rate, everyone notes a sharp fall in the number of incidents. People are not killed. There are separate victims but their number doesn’t compare with what they had there earlier.”
Lavrov voiced the hope that the new round of meetings in Minsk will bring results both in terms of consolidation of this part of the Minsk accords and in terms of a practical exchange of prisoners along the ‘all for all’ formula.
“We’ve been speaking in favor of it for quite some time and it’s really important to coordinate the lists (of prisoners),” he said.
“We’re prepared to assist in this work and to do everything in our power,” Lavrov said. “Of course, the Kiev authorities and representatives of self-defence forces should make direct agreements.”
“I do hope the Minsk talks will lift the problems that spring up in the way of humanitarian aid deliveries - and not only Russian aid now,” he said. “Our aid is getting to Ukraine without obstacles by now. It undergoes inspections by Ukrainian border guards and customs officials who work at Russian border checkpoints.”
“Along with them, representatives of the (European security organization) OSCE are found everywhere and officials of the International Red Cross take part in the distribution of Russian relief supplies, too,” Lavrov said.
“Problems spring up around the aid consigned to the territories of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics by the government,” he said. “Amnesty International and some other organizations made a statement a few days ago where it expressed utmost concern over the obstacles put up by Aidar and Dnepr battalions to the deliveries of aid provided by the Ukrainian government and nongovernmental funds /for instance, the charity fund of businessman Rinat Akhmetov/ in southeastern Ukraine.”
“The fact highlights one more aspect of the (Ukrainian) problem, which is the presence of battalions not reporting to the central government and funded by the oligarch Igor Kolomoisky and some other individuals in the territories controlled by the Ukrainian power-wielding forces,” Lavrov said.