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Ukraine Contact Group to have last meeting this year in Minsk

December 22, 2015, 6:53 UTC+3 MINSK

The government in Kiev, however, has not voiced its official position on the prolongation of the Minsk accords anywhere

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MINSK, December 22. /TASS/. Contact Group for settling the armed civil conflict in eastern Ukraine is expected to have a new meeting - the last one this year - in Minsk, but the summing up of the peace process results is certainly off the agenda, since the political workgroup, which is discussing the knottiest block of problems, does not meet here on Tuesday.

The set of measures conducive to the implementation of the Minsk accord on settling the bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine that was conceived as a crisis settlement roadmap envisioned accomplishment of all the provisions of the peace plan before the end of 2015.

Foreign Ministers of the countries making up the so-called Normandy format - Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine - were unanimous in their conviction at the last meeting in Berlin that the Minsk accords should be prolonged to next year. Experts say U.S. Vice President Joe Biden issued a recommendation to Kiev much along the same lines during his recent visit to Ukraine.

The government in Kiev, however, has not voiced its official position on the prolongation of the Minsk accords anywhere.

In this connection, the observers do not expect much from this year’s last meeting of the Contact Group, saying the next few days may be marked by some important negotiations where the parties to the conflict may state their resolve to fulfill the Minsk accords although the year 2015 is over.

Tuesday’s meeting will be dominated by the problem of POWs exchange. Darya Olifer, press secretary of the Ukrainian government’s plenipotentiary representative at the talks, Leonid Kuchma, said the participants would hear a report by the humanitarian workgroup on the release of POWs and particularly the ones who need medical aid drastically.

"Ukrainian authorities feel confident tangible process can be reached at this meeting," she said.

The Ukrainian side says 139 Ukrainian military are kept as prisoners in Donbass. On the face of it, the office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights of the Donetsk People’s Republic says the pro-Kiev armed units are holding 1,287 persons captive, including 473 military, 581 political prisoners, and 233 civilians totally unrelated to developments in Donbass.

The number people listed as missing is 388 but some of them may also be found among the POWs.

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