MOSCOW, September 9. /TASS/. Moscow welcomes Kiev’s readiness to disengage forces and hardware along the contact line between conflicting sides in Donbass, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a joint press conference after 2+2 talks between the Russian and French foreign and defense ministers.
"The Russian side took note of rather positive statements of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky that he seeks a solution through the efforts of the Normandy Four and the Contact Group on the issue of disengaging forces and hardware on the contact line, starting from those regions, which had been approved three years ago by the Normandy Four leaders, and then along the entire contact line," Lavrov said.
"This fully meets the expectations of those who are interested in implementing the Minsk agreements in full," he said.
According to Lavrov, Russia voiced hope that "this Ukrainian president’s position would determine the country’s future course" on settling the crisis in Donbass. Russia’s top diplomat criticized statements made by some members of Zelensky’s team that Kiev was not satisfied by "various aspects of the Minsk agreements."
The Russian foreign minister stated that last Saturday’s "35 for 35 exchange" between Russia and Ukraine would promote a settlement in Donbass and allow for revoking aggressive decisions by the Pyotr Poroshenko regime. "We expressed satisfaction with last Saturday’s 35 for 35 exchange," he said. "We hope that this is a good sign, which will make it possible to expect that alongside a settlement in Donbass, Russian-Ukrainian relations will get back to normal and the aggressive and anti-Russian decisions made by the Poroshenko regime will be revoked with the aim of ensuring mutual respect in bilateral relations and respect for ethnic minorities in Ukraine and Russia."
On September 7, Moscow and Kiev swapped prisoners on the ‘35 for 35’ formula. Preparations for the prisoner swap intensified after Vladimir Zelensky had been elected Ukraine’s president. Several weeks ago, the negotiations entered an active phase and legal procedures were launched for the two countries’ nationals who had been added to the list. On September 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the exchange would be massive and might be a step towards mending bilateral ties.