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MOSCOW, August 10. /TASS/. The Russian foreign ministry sees its task concerning the Contact Group on Ukraine in ensuring its active and efficient work, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Monday.
She said the Contact Group’s efforts may be different, depending on the current situation. "We assess each concrete result it reaches," she said when asked what the Russian foreign ministry thought about the Contact Group’s efforts. "We refrain from saying the Contact Group is working bad or good. The situation may differ. The Group’s efforts may be stuck or may yield some agreements helping the parties to bring closer their positions."
"So, this mechanism is working and our task is to ensure its really active and efficient work. And this is what we are doing," she added.
The initiative to set up a trilateral contact group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) came in February, 2014 and its first session was held in Kiev early in June. The Group’s task is to facilitate diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Donbass. Since July 31, 2014, the group’s meetings have been held in the Belarusian capital city Minsk.
On September 19, 2014, the Contact Group adopted a memorandum outlining the parameters for the implementation of commitments on ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014. The nine-point memorandum in particular envisioned a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.
On February 15, 2015, 14-hour negotiations between the leaders of Normandy Four (Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko) in Minsk yielded a package of measures to stop the conflict in Donbas, knows as Minsk II. The 13-point package in particular included an agreement on cessation of fire from February 15, withdrawal of heavy armaments, as well as measures on long-term political settlement of the situation in Ukraine, including establishment of working subgroups as priority tasks.
However, the ceasefire has been violated repeatedly. The self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk have repeatedly said the ceasefire observation depends completely on the Ukrainian side.