MOSCOW, April 30. /TASS/. The top diplomats of Russia and the United States, Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry, have supported the formation of four working subgroups within the Contact Group on Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday following a phone conversation between Lavrov and Kerry.
"The ministers voiced support to the formation of four working subgroups of the Contact Group and the soonest possible start of their practical work with the purpose of strict implementation by the sides of all provisions of the February 12 Minsk agreements, including observing the ceasefire regime and withdrawal of heavy armaments, conducting a constitutional reform in Ukraine, solution of humanitarian and economic problems," the ministry said.
Lavrov particularly stressed the necessity of Kiev’s stable direct dialogue on these issues with Donetsk and Lugansk.
The sides also exchanged opinions on possible steps of the international community to launch a peace process in Syria as well as to contribute to political settlement in Libya and Yemen.
Lavrov and Kerry also discussed bilateral issues, including the schedule of further contacts.
On February 12, participants of the Contact Group on settlement of the situation in Donbass signed in Minsk a document earlier agreed with leaders of the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine), which envisioned cessation of fire, withdrawal of heavy armaments from the contact line as well as political settlement measures, including establishment of working subgroups as priority tasks.
The subgroups will focus on four areas: economic issues and restoration of facilities; refugees, internally displaced persons and humanitarian assistance; political issues; security issues.
Clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April 2014, to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics and constitute parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, have left thousands dead and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee Ukraine’s embattled east.
The parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agreed on a ceasefire at talks in September 2014 in the Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.
The ceasefire has reportedly been numerously violated since. There have been several meetings of the Trilateral Contact Group on east Ukrainian settlement comprising representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE and of the Normandy Four aimed at finding ways to diplomatically and politically settle the intra-Ukrainian conflict.