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Russia’s OSCE envoy doesn't rule out resumption of combat actions in Donbas

October 19, 2015, 19:48 UTC+3 VIENNA
According to the diplomat, the Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions are the hubs from where rapid build-up and involvement of a group of Ukraine’s Armed Forces is possible
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© AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky/Archive

VIENNA, October 19. /TASS/. Russia believes that it is impossible to fully rule out a possibility of resumption of hostilities in the Donbas region by Kiev, Russia’s Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Alexander Lukashevich told TASS.

"It looks like the situation is stabilizing, but it’s difficult to rule out the recurrence of the hostilities by Kiev, difficult to give a one-hundred-percent guarantee," he said.

According to Lukashevich, over the past week more than 100 pieces of military equipment have disappeared from the heavy weaponry storage areas. "The question is that these translocations may create the impression that the Ukrainian side is preparing, in the event of failure of the political settlement, to try to use force again and then quickly give a boost to its military capabilities," the diplomat said. He noted that the Russian mission to the OSCE "had asked this question but received no reply from the Ukrainian representatives."

He noted though that "there was no obvious evidence [of Kiev’s preparations for such a scenario - TASS], but "the bellicose rhetoric from both the Ukrainian delegation here and from Kiev" continued.

In his opinion, the OSCE mission should extend monitoring to the regions adjacent to Donbas to prevent the possible military scenario. "There are concrete examples: the Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions are the hubs from where rapid build-up and involvement of a group of Ukraine’s Armed Forces is possible. We draw attention to the fact that the mission should be aware of what is happening there," Lukashevich said. He added that at present there were difficulties with this, although "this is potentially the area from which the forces for military actions can be pulled."

"However, despite different estimates by representatives of OSCE member-countries, the common conclusion is that, beginning with September 1, the stabilization of the situation and cessation of active hostilities in Donbas already became a reality," the Russian diplomat said. "Although the process is still quite fragile, since separate violations on both sides are observed, the common trend is quite positive, and everyone would like it to be preserved in the future," he added.

"So, everyone is interested in making the verification process more stable, so that the mission has an opportunity to visit the widest possible areas to make sure that the parties, primarily Kiev, fulfill their obligations within the Package of Measures and the Supplement to it concerning the withdrawal of lighter weapons," Lukashevich added.

Kiev still idles in setting up direct dialogue with Donbas

 Lukashevich said that Kiev authorities show no signs of readiness for setting up direct contacts with Ukraine’s self-proclaimed republics commonly known as Donbas.

"The Ukrainians insist that they have implemented all steps within the frames of the Minsk Accords, however, there is a lack of the prime step as there is no direct dialogue, which is the foundation for the whole document," Lukashevich said in an interview with TASS. "Repeated calls from Donbas [on direct dialogue] were either ignored or simply rejected."

The Russian permanent envoy to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) added that "there are some evident attempts to pretend that Russia must implement some kind of obligations under the Minsk-2, but they [the attempts] are absolutely futile and do not meet the tasks in the undersigned Complex of Measures."

"We can neither pass the election legislature for Ukraine, nor carry our Constitutional reformations," he said. "This is how absurd all propaganda cliche used by Ukrainian representatives here."

On the other hand, Lukashevich said, Russia "is professionally pointing out to remaining shortcomings and what Kiev needs to complete in the remaining time, preferably by the end of the year, as it is stipulated by Minsk-2."

"However, considering the fact of the elections postponement it is obvious that it would be hard to complete everything within the given period of time," the OSCE envoy said.

Lukashevich, who used to serve in the past as the spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said there was no necessity at the moment to start initiating the process on the extension of the Minsk Accords implementation.

Less than two weeks ago, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics (DPR and LPR) agreed to postpone elections initially planned for October 18 and November 1 respectively. Elections in the DPR were postponed until April 20, 2016, and in the LPR - until February 21, 2016.

Announcing their decision to postpone elections in Donbas, envoys of DPR and LPR to the Contact Group Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego said that Ukraine will be obliged to fulfill all political commitments in the framework of the Minsk Agreements, including granting a special status to Donbas, announcing amnesty for participants of events in the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions, and re-voting on amendments to the Constitution on coordination with Donbas.

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