MOSCOW, February 21. /TASS/. The Contact Group on Donbass settlement should discuss the situation around the embattled town of Debaltsevo and the prisoners ‘swaps among other themes, Plenipotentiary Representative of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) at the Minsk talks Denis Pushilin told reporters on Saturday.
"We have themes for discussion," Pushilin said at the first republican congress of the Peace to Lugansk Region public movement. "There exist provisions of the package of measures (on implementation of the Minsk agreements) and they must be fulfilled."
"An issue of the Debaltsevo pocket was of crucial importance and the Contact Group tried to debate it," he said. "But the leaders of our republics had not signed and refused at once to sign the agreement until an algorithm of way out of the situation around Debaltsevo would be added to the package of measures."
"But Ukraine brushed it aside. Ukraine pretended that nothing was going on there and that everything was all right, everything was under control," Pushilin said. "However, it did not correspond to reality that’s why now, in fact, Debaltsevo goes outside the brackets."
"Debaltsevo should not affect the whole peace process which actually is proceeding slower that it might have been," he said. "Nevertheless, the shifts are considerable and substantive."
"Debaltsevo is on the agenda, in what aspect?" he said. "How to exchange prisoners of war, and not even to exchange them but to let some of them just go - there are some people there who had been told that if they surrender abandoning arms and hardware, we would let you go. In other words, the groups that surrender will be released first and without any swaps while those who were detained on the battlefield will be exchanged."
At the same time, Plenipotentiary Representative of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) at the Minsk talks Vladislav Deinego told the LuganskInformCentre news agency on Saturday that a date of the next online conference of the Contact Group on settlement in Donbass was still undecided,
"As for the talks scheduled for February 24, I would like to ask you to refrain (from comments)," Deinego said. "As it is ‘scheduled’ like this: they make a phone call saying that in an hour we start. This is how they plan these conferences. So it is ‘scheduled for February 24’ but there may be held eight video conferences before this one.".