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MINSK, December 24. /TASS/. The Contact Group for the settlement of the conflict in the east of Ukraine is meeting in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Wednesday.
The agenda of another Minsk meeting has become “a stumbling block," which for quite a long time has not allowed the sides to agree upon the date. Representative of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) at the negotiations Vladislav Deinego said on December 17 that the republic was ready for talks only on the condition that the agenda would include issues of cancelling (Ukrainian President) Petro Poroshenko’s decrees on socio-economic blockade of Donbas, on the enactment of the laws on the region’s special status and on amnesty.
However, these demands have apparently not been included in the list of the top priority subjects for discussion. Russia’s Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Andrey Kelin said last week that four questions were being worked up for the Minsk meeting of the Contact Group. “They include the disengagement of heavy weapons, exchange of forcibly detained people, issues of humanitarian aid provision and the economic theme — the establishment of economic ties between Donbas and Kiev,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at his annual big news conference in Moscow last week again urged the conflict sides in the south-east of Ukraine to start a political dialogue in which Russia was ready to act as a mediator.
According to him, “such a dialogue should be sought by both sides” — Kiev authorities and their opponents in Donetsk and Luhansk, and this is a problem. Reciprocal steps have not been observed so far, on the contrary, the sides have failed to implement in full the agreements reached within the Contact Group in Minsk.
Saying that Ukraine “needs the restoration of peace and settlement of issues by political means,” Putin urged both sides of the conflict to complete the exchange of prisoners of war before the New Year according to the “all for all” formula.