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Contact Group for Ukraine to discuss creation of security zones in Donbass

October 26, 2016, 7:42 UTC+3

According to a source close to the talks, the participants in the Minsk meeting are to analyze the reasons why the sides in conflict have failed to disengage their forces near Stanitsa Luganskaya

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MINSK, October 26 /TASS/. The Contact Group for the Ukraine settlement will hold a regular meeting in Minsk on Wednesday, the first after the recent Normandy Four summit in Berlin where the leaders of Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France agreed to work out a roadmap for implementing the Minsk Accords.

It was decided that advisers to the Normandy Four leaders would be the first to work over the new document. The foreign ministers will agree on it in November. After that, the leaders of the four countries will approve the roadmap.

Under these circumstances, the Contact Group will apparently have to wait for the appearance of a roadmap on all major issues. The maximum what the sides can do at this stage is to discuss private matters within the economic group and prepare a list of areas for the next disengagement of forces by the sides in conflict. It is necessary to complete the creation of the first three security zones and agree on the next four, the "quartet’s" leaders said after meeting in Berlin.

According to a source close to the talks, the participants in the Minsk meeting are to analyze the reasons why the sides in conflict have failed to disengage their forces near Stanitsa Luganskaya.

A group on humanitarian issues has put off its meeting to November 9, sources in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said last week.

Security zones

On September 21, the Trilateral Contact Group on the settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine reached a framework agreement on disengagement of forces in Donbass. The Contact Group agreed on the principles and a timeframe for disengaging the Kiev government forces and militias in the Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Stage one is to create security zones at three sections of the line of contact, namely near Zolotoye, Petrovskoye and Stanitsa Luganskaya. The agreement envisages withdrawal of armed forces from the line of contact to create security zones at least two kilometers wide and two kilometers deep. The entire disengagement process, including preparatory measures, is to take not more than 30 days for each of the sections and be followed by demining works. The document is also applicable to other sections that might be agreed by the parties in further consultations.

The disengagement process has successfully been completed near Zolotoye and Petrovskoye. The situation near Stanitsa Luganskaya where the Ukrainian side has failed several attempts to disengage the forces is likely to be the main topic for discussion at today’s meeting.

Following the Normandy Four summit in Berlin on October 19, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reported that the Normandy Four leaders had reached an agreement on establishment of four new zones of disengagement in Donbass.

Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko, in turn, said Ukraine insisted on putting the DPR’s city of Debaltsevo on the list of these zones. He referred to the fact that for the moment of signing of the Minsk Agreements, the territory was allegedly under control of the Ukrainian military.

Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said in turn that no agreement had been reached on the pullout of troops from Debaltsevo and that this work would continue. "However, the Russian side totally disagrees" with the proposals made during the talks, he added.

The DPR forces also refused to leave Debaltsevo. Denis Pushilin, the DPR’s chief envoy at the Minsk negotiations, said that it could threaten the security of Debaltsevo’s population.

At the same time, the self-proclaimed republics (DPR and LPR), which are ready for the second stage of disengagement of forces and weapons, have prepared proposals on seven districts. However, the Wednesday meeting in Minsk is unlikely to produce any coordinated decision on this matter.

No breakthroughs are expected in the work of the political group. Kiev continues insisting on priority of security issues. Given all this, a roadmap is the only thing, which can unblock the situation. After the Berlin summit, it was announced that the roadmap called for synchronizing the security and political steps and setting concrete deadlines to fulfil the assigned tasks.

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