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Contact Group on Ukraine meeting in Minsk

September 19, 2014, 20:23 UTC+3
According to Ukrainian ex-president Leonid Kuchma, the Contact Group will discuss a memorandum envisaging steps for stopping hostilities in eastern Ukraine
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© Archive ITAR-TASS/Zurab Djavakhadze

MINSK, September 19. /ITAR-TASS/. A meeting of the Contact Group on the Ukrainian crisis settlement has started in Belarusian capital Minsk.

Like last time on September 5, the talks involve former Ukrainian president and the current president's special envoy Leonid Kuchma, Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Alexander Zakharchenko, head of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) Igor Plotnitsky.

First deputy DPR premier Andrey Purgin, LPR Supreme Council chairman Alexey Karyakin, Russia’ s ambassador to Kiev Mikhail Zurabov and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini are also taking part.

According to Kuchma, the Trilateral Contact Group comprising Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE will consider a memorandum whose first point is how to stop hostilities in Ukraine’s embattled southeast.

He expressed hope for progress and added that the issue of the OSCE’s role in strengthening the security regime on the Russian-Ukrainian border was also on the agenda. Besides, Kuchma said, the OSCE should take under its control “the situation with the zone that will have a local self-government”.

Karyakin confirmed to ITAR-TASS earlier today that the meeting’s key goal will be to negotiate issues of strengthening the ceasefire regime.

“Our goal is to end the war,” he said. “The principled agreement on truce was reached at the previous meeting in Minsk on September 5, and it has been observed on the whole. But it’s not a secret that there are cases of violation of the regime although we are entirely committed to it.”

A special role should be played by the OSCE, Karyakin said.

In turn, Zurabov told journalists that “a significant step forward” is expected at the meeting that would make previously reached agreements “more stable”.

According to UN data, clashes between troops loyal to Kiev and local militias in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics, have resulted in about 3,000 deaths and massive destruction and forced hundreds of thousands to flee Ukraine’s war-torn southeast.

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire and exchange of captives during the OSCE-mediated talks in Minsk on September 5 that came two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his seven-point plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine. The long hoped-for ceasefire took effect the same day, but reports have said it has been violated several times.

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, on September 16 passed the law granting a special self-rule status to certain districts in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions for three years. Elections to local self-government bodies were set for December 7. The special status law was stipulated by the Minsk agreements.

The Rada also passed a law on amnesty for participants of combat activities in Ukraine’s troubled eastern regions except for those people who committed serious crimes.

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