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MOSCOW, March 4. /TASS/. The Ukrainian authorities have refused to create working groups in the framework of the Contact Group, Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday. They are dragging out the process, Lavrov added.
"On February 24, in Paris, the Contact Group was urged to create working groups for reviewing all aspects of the Minsk agreements from February 12, including on the political process, as soon as possible," Lavrov said.
"For now, unfortunately, the Ukrainian authorities refuse the proposals of Donetsk and Luhansk, of the Russian side, to create such groups and announce their composition, trying to drag out the process. It is troubling," the minister added.
"There should be no doubt that the documents from February 12 must be implemented fully," Lavrov stressed. "This includes immediately establishing working groups, starting work on a constitutional reform, restoring social and economic ties and so on," the minister said.
On Tuesday, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) envoy to Contact Group Denis Pushilin said the Ukrainian side refuses to appoint representatives to working groups in the framework of the Contact Group on settlement of situation in east Ukraine.
"The Ukrainian side refuses, for reasons unknown to me, to appoint its representatives to these departments," Pushilin noted. Next videoconference of the Contact Group will take place "in the next few days," he added.
Pushilin earlier said that DPR and the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) have already appointed their representatives to specialized departments. They already started working on several issues, he added.
Kiev has vowed to complete heavy weaponry withdrawal from the disengagement line in Donbas by March 7, Pushilin told TASS on Tuesday.
Pushilin said he is "moderately optimistic" after a videoconference of the Contact Group on Ukraine. "We managed to agree on several issues. The main result was that the Ukrainian side confirmed its plans to withdraw weapons by March 7. They vowed to complete [the withdrawal] by this date," Pushilin said.
"This is very important for us as we have completed the withdrawal ahead of schedule," he noted.
Prisoner swap will be discussed at the next Contact Group meeting in the nearest future, he added.
LPR envoy Vladislav Deinego earlier said that the Contact Group on Ukraine plans to assess the implementation of the package of measures adopted on February 12, 2015 in Minsk at the beginning of March. "Mainly, [the Contact Group] will discuss the agreements on weaponry withdrawal and ceasefire," Deinego said.
DPR and LPR have completed heavy weaponry withdrawal in accordance with the Minsk agreements by March 1. The Ukrainian forces announced they started weaponry withdrawal on February 26.