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LPR head claims Kiev responsible for delays in POW exchange

August 20, 15:08 UTC+3 LUGANSK
The republic’s head said the number of people to be exchanged is not a key argument
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LUGANSK, August 20. /TASS/. Head of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) Igor Plotnisky said on Saturday Kiev is responsible for deliberate delays in exchange of prisoners with Donbass and named the situation an "endless bargain."

"We are bargaining all the time: either the number of prisoners, or whatever," LuganskInformCenter quoted him. "Stop bargains!"

The republic’s head said the number of people to be exchanged is not a key argument.

"The Minsk agreement says clearly - all for all," he said. "The agreements did not contain a strict number of people, as it changes all the time."

He spoke about a situation, which was in the beginning of the current year.

"If you can remember, near Christmas I told them we may send back the military prisoners we had," he said. "But Kiev was thinking and thinking, and no decision was made. Thus, they do not care for the prisoners of war then."

A provision on exchange of prisoners of war is a key aspect of the Minsk agreements.

Members of the Contact Group for the settlement of the situation in the east of Ukraine at a meeting in Minsk on April 29 agreed on a complete ceasefire in Donbass starting from midnight on April 30. It is an eighth ceasefire agreement since the autumn of 2014. The sides however continue accusing each other of ceasefire violations.

Kiev’s security forces in the people’s militia responsibility zone have been repeatedly violating the truce, opening fire from mortars and tank weapons, which had to be withdrawn in accordance with the Minsk agreements.

The Package of Measures to fulfil the September 2014 Minsk agreements, known as Minsk-2, that was signed in Minsk on February 12, 2015, envisaged a ceasefire regime between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR) starting from February 15, 2015 and a subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement. The deal also laid out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.

On Friday, German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Sawsan Chebli told reporters Germany’s government considers it necessary to go ahead with the efforts as part of the Normandy format (Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France) to implement the Minsk peace deal on Ukraine despite all challenges. "The talks on implementing Minsk are held at the level of experts on a regular basis. We hold by our opinion: despite the current difficult situation and all failures there is the need to make efforts and stay in the Normandy format to fulfill Minsk," Chebli said.

The diplomat reminded that German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had earlier said he was not satisfied by how the deal signed in February 2015 was implemented, namely in the security area in Donbass and preparations for the local elections.

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