MOSCOW, February 24. /TASS/. A regular videoconference between the participants of the Contact Group on the resolution of the ongoing conflict in the southeast of Ukraine is likely to be held on Tuesday, Denis Pushilin, the group’s envoy from self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said.
"The meeting of the Contact Group in the online format may be held today," Pushilin was quoted by the Donetsk news agency as saying.
According to Pushilin, the participants in the talks plan to agree on the formation of working sub-groups within the frames of the Contact Group as it was envisaged by the Minsk agreements.
"On our behalf the sub-groups have been already formed and started preliminary work on the issues they were tasked with in compliance with the provisions stipulated by the set of measures on the implementation of the Minsk agreements," Pushilin said.
The Belarusian capital of Minsk hosted on February 12 summit talks of Normandy Four leaders - Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The 16-hour marathon summit negotiations ended in a package of agreements, which in particular envisaged ceasefire between the Ukrainian conflicting sides starting from midnight on February 15.
Prior to the summit talks Minsk also hosted the meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine involving Ukraine’s ex-president Leonid Kuchma, Kiev’s special representative for humanitarian issues Viktor Medvedchuk, the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, and Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov and OSCE’s envoy Heidi Tagliavini, who both acted as mediators.
As a result of the meeting, it was announced that an agreement was reached on the ceasefire in certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the heavy weaponry pullout and measures on a long-term political settlement of the crisis.
The ceasefire agreement reached at the talks in Minsk in mid-February was not the first during the military conflict in Ukraine, which erupted almost a year ago.
The previous ceasefire between Kiev authorities and defense forces of the self-proclaimed republics in the southeast of Ukraine was reached on September 5 with the mediation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
However, numerous violations of the ceasefire, which took effect the same day, have been reported since. The situation in the southeast of Ukraine deteriorated further with the start of this year as military clashes intensified resulting in numerous casualties on both conflicting sides.
The deterioration in Ukraine prompted a diplomatic blitz from Hollande and Merkel early this month as they went first for talks with Poroshenko in Kiev on February 5 and then met with Putin in Moscow the other day.
Currently, the conflicting sides in Ukraine say combat activity on the separation line has decreased.
Before and after the Minsk meeting, the leaders have held regular telephone conversations in the Normandy format. The sides have agreed to continue them in the future.
Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands of people have fled Ukraine’s embattled east as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, launched in mid-April 2014 to regain control over parts of the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics.