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Contact Group to discuss resolution of Ukrainian conflict

January 20, 5:17 UTC+3 MINSK
The results of the past week that has elapsed since the previous meeting of the group on January 13 turned out to be quite modest
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© Viktor Drachev/TASS

MINSK, January 20. /TASS/. The Contact Group on resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine will gather in the Belarusian capital on Wednesday for another round of discussions on the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

The results of the past week that has elapsed since the previous meeting of the group on January 13 turned out to be quite modest. The silence regime, which representatives of Kiev and the Donbass regions agreed to observe as of January 14 at the suggestion of Moscow’s plenipotentiary envoy Boris Gryzlov, in practice has not taken effect.

Also, the parties to the conflict failed to conduct the prisoner swap representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at the Contact Group Martin Sajdik said was to be held before January 20.

The only positive result is the beginning of mine clearance in the Donbass region along power lines from the Uglegorsk thermal power plant to the town of Makeevka and from Maiorsk to Zaitsevo village in northern Gorlovka and along the water supply conduit of the Seversky Donetsk Donbass canal.

Meanwhile, the meeting of presidential aide Vladislav Surkov and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland on the Ukrainian issue held in Kaliningrad on January 15 has substantially changed the tone of statements coming from Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics giving rise to new hopes for significant progress in resolving the crisis.

According to U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby, Nuland and Surkov met to discuss the situation in eastern Ukraine and the importance of the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. According to media reports, this dialogue was organized in furtherance of the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on December 15.

"The consultations were quite substantial, constructive and useful. That was some kind of a brainstorming session to look for comprises to implement the Minsk agreements," Surkov told reporters.

During the meeting that lasted six hours "the participants came up with ideas on some sensitive issues, such as the Constitutional reform (in Ukraine), security and elections, which can be discussed at the Contact Group in the 'Normandy format' (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine," Surkov said.

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