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Ukrainian, German leaders agree to continue Contact Group operation

November 22, 2014, 1:00 UTC+3 KIEV
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KIEV, November 21. /TASS/. Ukrainian President PetroPoroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday agreed by phone to continue the operation of the Contact Group that ensures the mechanism of Minsk deals implementation, the Ukrainian presidential press service reported.

“They agreed that continuation of the work of the Trilateral Contact Group is an important mechanism that may ensure the implementation of the Minsk agreements for peace settlement of the conflict in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions,” the statement said.

Earlier, plenipotentiary representative of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Denis Pushilin said DPR and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) representatives are ready to head to Minsk within the next few days and start working.

Pushilin said “the pause in the operation of the Minsk group became protracted” and it is unclear “why Kiev is slow in coordinating the date and agenda for the next meeting.” The DPR representative said “there is an impression that Kiev is seeking a complete cessation of the Minsk process to give up direct contacts with the [self-proclaimed] republics.”

Pushilin also confirmed the adherence of the DPR and LPR to “the Minsk format with participation of Russia, the OSCE, the DPR and LPR, as well as Ukraine.”

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 two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine. The ceasefire took effect the same day but has reportedly occasionally been violated.

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

The nine-point document in particular stipulates 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.

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