MOSCOW, October 2. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic expects a significant change in Kiev’s stance on resolving the conflict in Donbas after the Normandy format summit in Paris on Friday, the DPR’s envoy to the Minsk peace talks, Denis Pushilin, has said.
"We hope there will be a conceptual change in Ukraine’s approaches when implementing the Minsk agreements. Indeed, a lot depends on this meeting," Pushilin was quoted by the Donetsk news agency as saying ahead of the summit of the Normandy Four leaders.
Pushilin stressed that Kiev’s policy has seriously hampered the efforts on peaceful settlement in Donbas so far and the situation is likely to deteriorate if the Ukrainian leadership fails to revise the course.
"It is much more difficult to solve political and economic issues than the security ones. You saw how much time it took [the sides] to sign an absolutely simple document on withdrawing weapons with the caliber under 100mm," he said.
The DPR envoy explained that this should have been done in March but due to Ukraine’s stance the deal was signed only earlier this week. He expressed hope that the Normandy format summit will contribute towards solving issues faster.
The leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine are due to gather in Paris on Friday for the Normandy format talks. This will be the third such face-to-face meeting of the four leaders since the so-called Normandy format of negotiations on the conflict in Ukraine was introduced in June 2014.
The sides are due to discuss a range of issues on resolving the conflict in Donbas, including holding local elections and weapons withdrawal.
Ukraine should start withdrawing its weaponry simultaneously with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics (DPR and LPR), Denis Pushilin went on to say.
Not fulfilling this condition will constitute a violation of the Minsk Agreements, Pushilin said commenting on the statement by Ukraine’s military operation headquarters. The headquarters said that LPR and DPR should start withdrawing the weaponry unilaterally, and then Ukrainian forces will start withdrawal on their side.
"Of course, the simultaneous withdrawal by DPR and LPR and Ukraine was outlined [in the Minsk Agreements]. So, this can be their wish or possible trick to provoke us. However, this is will a violation of the signed document," Donetsk News Agency quoted Pushilin as saying.
The agreement signed in Minsk by members of the Contact Group and its sub-group on security envisages withdrawal of weaponry of less than 100mm caliber and tanks to the distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line in Donbass. At first, tanks will be withdrawn, followed by artillery and mortars. The first stage should start two days after the complete ceasefire and finish in 15 days. The second stage will take 24 days to complete. The withdrawal will start in the "North" sector on the LPR territory and will continue in the "South" sector in DPR.
The Minsk accords were signed on February 12, after negotiations in the so-called "Normandy format" in the Belarusian capital Minsk, bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
The Minsk accords envisage ceasefire, weaponry withdrawal, prisoner exchange, local election in Donbass, constitutional reform in Ukraine and establishing working sub-groups on security, political, economy and humanitarian components of the Minsk accords.
The Ukrainian forces and the self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics have repeatedly accused each other of violating ceasefire and other points of the Minsk agreements.