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Kiev, West cast doubt on implementation of Minsk accords - Russia foreign ministry

February 14, 2015, 22:54 UTC+3
Russia feels disquieted at Ukrainian politicians’ statements while representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk are making public their responsible attitude towards fulfilment of commitments
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MOSCOW, February 14. /TASS/. Official Kiev and certain Western states, including the United States, have already cast doubt on implementation of concrete provisions of the Minsk agreements, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"We confirm our high mark given to the set of measures on implementation of Minsk agreements adopted on February 12," the ministry said. "Russia is ready to facilitate the implementation of these agreements."

"Along with this, it is of our deep concern that Ukraine’s official figures represented by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin and certain Western states, in particular the United States, have actually associated themselves with the opinion of radical nationalists in Verkhovna Rada [Ukraine’s parliament] and have begun to distort contents of the Minsk agreements, casting doubt on implementation of concrete provisions of the document adopted by the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Russia feels disquieted at Ukrainian politicians’ statements while representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk are making public "their responsible attitude towards fulfilment of commitments undertaken by them," the statement says.

"We reiterate that the main message of Minsk agreements envisages that combat activities must be stopped, heavy weapons withdrawn and an actual constitutional reform launched in Ukraine," the Russian foreign ministry said.

Moscow calls on the sides in Ukraine conflict to strictly observe all the commitments.

"We expect that all the signatories of the Minsk document of February 12 along with the sides that supported the Minsk process - including Germany and France - will do their utmost for the reached agreements to be implemented without fail," it said.

On February 11, the Normandy Four summit - Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine’s Pyotr Poroshenko, France’s Francois Hollande and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel - lasted for the total of 16 hours in Minsk in various formats /in private and with other delegations/.

On February 12, members of the Trilateral Contact Group on the Ukrainian conflict settlement signed a four-page set of measures to implement the earlier Minsk agreements.

The document was signed by OSCE Special Representative Heidi Tagliavini, Ukraine’s second President Leonid Kuchma, Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, as well as leaders of the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR Aleksandr Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky.

The first point of the document sets condition for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire beginning from 00:00 hours (Kiev time) on February 15, 2015. The conflicting parties agreed on withdrawal of all heavy weapons.

The final document says that the Ukrainian troops are to be pulled back away from the current line of engagement, and the militias of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions - from the engagement line set by the Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014.

The package of measures contains a special item requiring "effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire regimen and pullout of heavy armaments by the OSCE as of the first day of the pullback, with the use of all required technical means, including satellites, drones, radars and other systems."

A separate point of the document provides for release and exchange of all hostages and illegally held persons based on the "all for all" principle that should be completed after the weapons withdrawal - on the fifth day at the latest. The sides also agreed on restoring the Ukrainian side’s control over the state border throughout the conflict zone.

Another point of the document provides for withdrawal of all foreign armed groups and mercenaries from Ukraine’s territory under OSCE supervision; all illegal armed groups shall be disarmed.

The set of agreed measures envisages Ukraine’s constitutional reform with the country’s new constitution talking effect by late 2015. The key element of the new constitution will be power decentralisation and adoption of permanent legislation on a special status for certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in Ukraine’s south-east.

Combat actions between the Ukrainian military and militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) during Kiev’s punitive operation in the country’s east conducted since mid-April 2014 have claimed over 5,400 lives and nearly a million people had to flee their homes seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, mostly in Russia, according to the UN data.

Mediatory efforts of Russia and the OSCE yielded results on September 5, where talks between parties to the Ukrainian conflict were held in Belarusian capital city Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin had proposed his plan to settle the situation in eastern 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 entrusted OSCE with a task of controlling implementation of the agreements.

In late January, the situation deteriorated after a passenger bus en route from Ukraine’s 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 intensified and dozens of peaceful civilians, including women, children, and the elderly, were killed there.

On February 7, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande arrived in Kiev for talks with Poroshenko with the aim to settle the crisis. Next day, the European leaders arrived in Moscow for talks with Putin.

On Sunday, February 10, the ‘Normandy Four’ discussed most recent developments by phone and scheduled a meeting in Minsk for February 11.

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