KIEV, December 25 /TASS/. The Contact Group for Ukraine will hold the second round of talks in Minsk on Friday, Ukraine’s news agency UNN reported referring to a source close to the talks’ organizers. No other source has confirmed this information to TASS.
The Contact Group met for almost five and a half hours on Wednesday, December 24. Denis Pushilin, an authorized representative of the Donetsk People’s Republic, has described the Wednesday meeting as preliminary.
The talks were attended by OSCE envoy for Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini; Ukraine’s former president Leonid Kuchma; Russia’s Ambassador to Kiev Mikhail Zurabov; an authorized representative of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, and Vladislav Deinego, an authorized representative of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic.
Later on, the heads of the self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, Igor Plotnitsky and Alexander Zakharchenko, said that the Contact Group had reached an agreement on prisoner exchanges at its meeting on December 24.
“For the moment, we have only one agreement: to exchange prisoners according to the “225 to 150” scheme,” Plotnitsky said.
The first meeting of the Contact Group for Ukraine took place in Minsk on September 5. It was attended by representatives of Kiev and Ukraine’s southeastern regions, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe /OSCE/ and Russia. The group adopted a peace settlement plan for Donbas and reached a ceasefire agreement.
The Contact Group adopted a memorandum on ceasefire in Donbas at its second meeting on September 20. The document consists of nine points including a ban on using all types of weapons and withdrawal of heavy weapons with a caliber of more than 100 mm to 15 kilometers away from the contact line.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has been tasked to monitor how the memorandum is being implemented. The document was signed by OSCE envoy for Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini; Ukraine’s former president Leonid Kuchma; Russia’s Ambassador to Kiev Mikhail Zurabov, DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko and the head of Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR0, Igor Plotnitsky.
In a bid to implement the Minsk agreements, the sides in conflict announced a “regime of silence” in the area of security operation in Donbas on December 9. Both the authorities in Kiev and the leaderships of the self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics stressed the need to start withdrawing heavy weapons, exchange prisoners and carry out de-militarization in the region.
All these issues are still on the agenda. The press service of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said when reporting about a telephone conversation held by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France that they had agreed on the need to implement all the points of the Minsk agreements, including a ceasefire, the establishment of a demarcation line fixed in the September 19 Memorandum; the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons and the earliest release of all hostages.