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LUGANSK, January 25. /TASS/. Plenipotentiary envoy of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) at the Minsk talks on Ukraine Vladislav Deinego expressed doubt about a meeting of Contact Group “under the current conditions.”
“I believe, meetings of the Minsk Contact Group are not reasonable under the current conditions,” the Lugansk Inform Centre quoted him.
The official also doubted organisation of a Contact Group meeting next week as “going back to a constructive dialogue may be possible only if Kiev makes realistic moves towards peace.”
“Heavy shelling of settlements, which claim lives of citizens, the deliberate destroying of houses, social and engineering infrastructures - demonstrate clearly the Ukrainian side is not ready to return to a constructive dialogue,” he said.
“During the meeting [of foreign ministers] of the “Normandy quartet” on January 21, Ukraine’s heavy artillery shelled the town of Stakhanov. Later on - several more towns. Thus, continuing the negotiations seems very doubtful now,” Deinego said.
A ceasefire was agreed upon at talks between the parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the 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.
Two weeks later, on September 20, the Contact Group adopted a memorandum on implementing a ceasefire. The nine-item document includes a ban on all weapons, pulling back heavy weapons from the line of engagement and setting up a buffer zone of 15 kilometres. It also entrusts the OSCE with a task of controlling implementation of the agreements.
On December 9, the parties to the conflict announced “the regime of silence” in the area of Kiev’s combat operation in Donbas aiming to come over to implementation of the Minsk accords.
Both Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics declared an urgency to pull back heavy weapons, to exchange prisoners of war and to demilitarise the region.
On January 16, the Minsk talks of the Contact Group on Ukraine were frustrated because of the situation around the Donetsk airport and the failure to agree the agenda.
In recent days the situation has deteriorated after a passenger bus en route from Donetsk to Zlatoustovka came under shelling on January 13. Twelve civilians were killed and at least 16 wounded. Artillery shelling and bombing strikes at Donbass cities have intensified and dozens of peaceful civilians, including women, children, and the elderly, died in them.
On January 22, a Berlin meeting of foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France has ended with definite shifts rather than with a considerable progress necessary for ceasing fire in war-torn Donbas. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Ukraine’s Pavel Klimkin and France’s Laurent Fabius have succeeded in negotiating a statement on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of contact stipulated in the Minsk agreements on September 19 as well as on intensifying the Contact Group’s work. Still, the decision to hold a summit in “Normandy format” that Kazakhstan is ready to host has not been taken yet. The joint statement adopted after the meeting says that an appeal for a ceasefire is not implemented while measures to alter the situation are listed.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko initiated an emergency meeting of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council on January 25 over the deterioration of the situation in eastern Ukraine after artillery shelling of the city of Mariupol. To attend this meeting, the Ukrainian president cut short his visit to Saudi Arabia. The meeting is to “work out and take extra steps over the quickly deteriorating situation in eastern regions.”.