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Donbas expects Merkel, Hollande to persuade Poroshenko to return to peace dialogue

August 24, 2015, 10:59 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Otherwise, Donbas is in for new destruction and victims, and Ukraine is in for new encirclements, the DPR’s representative in the Contact Group says

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Petro Poroshenko, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande (archive)

Petro Poroshenko, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande (archive)

© Mikhail Palinchak/Ukrainian presidential press service/TASS

MOSCOW, August 24. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) expect the leaders of Germany and France, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, to convince Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to return to implementation of the Minsk Agreements, the DPR’s representative in the Contact Group said Monday.

Denis Pushilin made the comment regarding a trilateral meeting due in Berlin later in the day.

"Europe is against the war. And I hope that on August 24, Hollande and Merkel will try to convince Petro Poroshenko to return to the Minsk format and implementation of the Package of Measures. We hope very much that they will succeed in that," Pushilin said.

"Otherwise, Donbas is in for new destruction and victims, and Ukraine is in for new encirclements," he said as quoted by the Donetsk News Agency.

Against the backdrop of new tensions in Donbas, Merkel will on Monday receive Hollande and they will later be joined by Poroshenko.

German government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said the meeting should be not be interpreted as a change of the Normandy format (Russia, France, Germany, Ukraine).

"The meeting will be held in a trilateral format, but it does not mean establishment of a new form of dialogue," Wirtz said.

Despite the fact that the meeting will not be held in the Normandy format, which also envisions Russia’s participation, Moscow believes such contacts are necessary.

"For us the necessity to render additional influence on Kiev to convince it that the agreements and commitments accepted in Minsk on February 12 need to be implemented is evident," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

"We also hope Germany and France, as guarantors of implementation of the Minsk Agreements, will do everything to ensure their unconditional fulfillment," Lavrov said. "This will be useful, taking into account that a regular meeting of the Contact Group and its working subgroups has been scheduled for August 26, two days after the Berlin trilateral summit."

Massive shelling of residential neighborhoods, including with the use of aviation, has killed thousands and led to a humanitarian disaster in east Ukraine since Kiev in April 2014 announced the start of an "antiterrorism operation" there, which involved the Armed Forces, the Interior Ministry’s National Guard and volunteer battalions made up of Euromaidan activists, many of whom hold far-right and neo-Nazi views.

Ukraine has regularly violated the ceasefire regime imposed as part of the Package of Measures on implementation of the September 2014 Minsk Agreements.

The Package (Minsk-2) was signed on February 12, 2015 in the Belarusian capital Minsk by participants of the Contact Group on settlement in Donbas.

The Package, earlier agreed with the leaders of the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) envisioned an overwhelming cessation of fire and withdrawal of heavy armaments to create a security area in the region at least 50 kilometers wide.

The constitutional reform and decentralization of power in Ukraine were also among the document’s key provisions, just as establishment of working subgroups.

The situation in eastern Ukraine has deteriorated in recent weeks, with the number of reports on shelling and civilian deaths increasing. The Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics have repeatedly said that the observance of the ceasefire that took effect February 15 depends solely on the Ukrainian side.

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