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Implementation of Minsk agreements to normalize situation in east Ukraine - Putin

February 23, 2015, 21:44 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, February 23. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday he hopes that implementation of the Minsk agreements will normalize the situation in eastern Ukraine.

"I very much hope that these [agreements] will be implemented. If they are implemented, this is the right way to normalization of the situation in that region of the country," Putin said in an interview with journalist Vladimir Solovyov showed on the Rossiya-24 TV channel Monday evening.

He said European countries are also interested in normalization of the situation in Ukraine.

"Europe is interested in implementation of the Minsk agreements not less than Russia," Putin said.

"No one needs a conflict on Europe’s periphery," he said.

Developments in east Ukraine

Clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April 2014, to regain control over parts of the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), have left thousands dead and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee Ukraine’s embattled east.

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agreed on a ceasefire at talks on September 5, 2014 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine. The ceasefire has reportedly been numerously violated since.

Ukraine’s parliament on September 16, 2014 adopted the law on a special self-rule status for certain districts in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions for three years. The law took effect October 18, 2014 but was then repealed by Kiev.

The Trilateral Contact Group on settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE adopted a memorandum on September 19, 2014 in Minsk. The document outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014.

The nine-point memorandum in particular envisioned a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

The Contact Group held meetings in late December 2014 and on January 31, 2015. They did not bring major results.

Regular talks of the participants of the Trilateral Contact Group were held in Minsk on February 10-12. At that meeting of the Contact Group, a 13-point Package of Measures on implementation of the Minsk agreements was adopted.

The package in particular included an agreement on cessation of fire from February 15, withdrawal of heavy armaments, as well as measures on long-term political settlement of the situation in Ukraine, including enforcement of the special self-rule status for certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

The document was signed by OSCE Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, ex-Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, Russian Ambassador in Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, as well as self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics' leaders Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky.

Talks of the Normandy Four leaders (Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France) on the Ukrainian issue also ended February 12 in Minsk.

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