SOCHI, October 2. /TASS/. Demands put forward by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s political opponents to explain the fact that Ukraine put its signature to the Steinmeier Formula are alarming, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the 16th annual session of the Valdai International Discussion Club on Wednesday.
"The reaction that ensued in Kiev naturally struck a warning note with me — demands of [Pyotr] Poroshenko, of Yulia Timoshenko’s party, let alone of [Svyatoslav] Vakarchuk and other radical political forces [that said], "Explain why you are betraying the Ukrainian people." This formula has been known for almost four years soon," he said.
The minister stressed that Moscow noticed that the Contact Group representatives put their signatures to the Steinmeier Formula on different sheets of paper. "Yesterday, all Contact Group members, including Lugansk and Donetsk, signed the Steinmeier Formula, although they did that on different sheets of paper. It is clear that someone thinks it’s below them to put their signatures next to the ones of other members, even though the Minsk Agreements are all signed on a single sheet of paper," he underlined.
The top diplomat added that before he learnt of Ukraine’s reaction, he was hoping that it was just a protocol or a cosmetic issue that would be overcome.
Yesterday, the Contact Group on settlement in eastern Ukraine was convened. Following the meeting, Russia’s permanent envoy to the group Boris Gryzlov announced that all members had agreed the Steinmeier Formula to embed it in the Ukrainian legislation. He also pointed out that "that is how a process for introducing the law on special status for certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions was agreed." Zelensky’s opponents in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) demanded that the president and the government provide clarification and explanation behind the reason to adopt the formula and its contents.
In late 2015, the then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier put forward a plan that later became known as the "Steinmeier Formula." The plan stipulates that a special status be granted to Donbass in accordance with the Minsk Agreements. In particular, the document envisages that Ukraine’s special law on local self-governance will take effect in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions on a temporary basis on the day of local elections, becoming permanent after the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) issues a report on the vote’s results. The idea was endorsed at the Normandy Four meeting in Paris on October 2, 2015, and has been known as the Steinmeier Formula since.