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MOSCOW, August 21. /TASS/. Kiev interprets the outcome of Thursday’s talks between experts from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France as a sign of German and French experts’ "support" for its position, but "this does not reflect the reality", Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
Discussions in Berlin focused on legal aspects of constitutional reform in Ukraine, the ministry said in a statement on its website. "The Russian side has provided specific examples to demonstrate that Kiev’s practical deeds fail to comply with the ‘letter and spirit’ of the February 12, 2015 Complex of Measures to fulfil the Minsk agreements," it said, adding that this primarily referred to the Ukrainian authorities’ "blank refusal" to hold direct dialogue on these issues with representatives of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, "which makes it impossible to implement political provisions of the Minsk deal".
Russian diplomats expressed bewilderment at Kiev’s attempts to interpret the outcome of the Berlin meeting as showing German and French experts’ "support" for Ukraine’s position.
"This does not reflect the reality," the ministry said, adding that: "Flaws in arguments used by Ukrainian partners are obvious."
"We hope that the dialogue in the ‘Normandy format’ will facilitate full implementation of the Minsk Complex of Measures, which forms the basis for resolving the escalating crisis in Ukraine, and will assist in every way possible the work within existing cooperation formats, including the Contact Group and its working subgroups," the ministry said.
On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed to the importance of "Normandy-format" meetings between leaders and foreign ministry officials of the four countries to ease the conflict in Ukraine’s east.
He said Russia was ready to hold such a meeting, at first at the level of experts, "to put two documents on the table - Minsk’s Package of Measures and those amendments to the Constitution that were adopted by the Verkhovna Rada [Ukrainian parliament], and also those documents that were adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on holding local elections in Donbass and granting special status to these territories".
Leaders of Germany, France and Ukraine are expected to meet in Berlin on August 24. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will at first receive French President Francois Hollande, while Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will join them later.
In view of the upcoming meeting, Lavrov said he hoped Hollande and Merkel would use their influence on Poroshenko to convince Kiev to comply with the ceasefire agreements signed in Minsk, Belarus, in February.
On February 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine’s Poroshenko, France’s Hollande and Germany’s Merkel held marathon talks in Minsk, seeking to reach a political settlement over east Ukraine's future.
Belarus also gathered envoys of Moscow, Kiev, the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk and European security watchdog OSCE.
The meetings yielded a package of measures to implement the September 2014 Minsk agreements, including a ceasefire in certain areas of east Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions starting from February 15.
The 13-point Complex of Measures also called for withdrawal of all heavy weapons from the front line, prisoner release and agreement for international observers to monitor the truce.
Based on September’s stillborn Minsk peace protocol, the deal laid out a road map for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give the war-torn eastern regions more autonomy.
Among the terms of the February 12 deal was a commitment to intensify the work of the Trilateral Contact Group of senior representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. Four subgroups, tasked with addressing security, political, economic and humanitarian issues, are expected to advance work by the Contact Group in activating elements of the Minsk deal.