ASHGABAT, October 11. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky was unable to ensure the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops as part of disengagement of forces at Zolotoye and Petrovskoye in Donbass, the manifestation of political will is needed to implement that agreement, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of the CIS Heads of State Council on Friday.
"An agreement on the disengagement of forces has been reached. However, the incumbent [Ukrainian] president cannot ensure the disengagement of troops and military equipment. The nationalist units, which arrived there, openly said that, if the army withdrew from these positions, they would take them up. The army is not leaving the area," the Russian leader noted. He added that the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics had signaled their readiness to begin disengagement several times firing white flares, but there was no response from the Ukrainian side.
"The manifestation of political will is needed there," Putin stressed.
"I believe it is essential to support not specific people, but the policy pursued by them," he added. Earlier on Friday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko called on the leaders of the CIS member-states to support the current Ukrainian administration.
Troop withdrawal deal
At the October 1 meeting of the Contact Group, the parties agreed to begin the disengagement process at Zolotoye and Petrovskoye. Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine Martin Sajdik said the disengagement was due to start on October 7. However, the process was not launched on that day. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Pristaiko said a seven-day ceasefire had to be observed before starting the disengagement.
However, the Donbass republics recalled that this time that demand was not a condition for launching the disengagement. The LPR has linked Kiev’s disruption of the effort to an increased activity of radical forces in Ukraine. Radical groups had staged protests across the country, and on October 6 militants from the Azov battalion arrived in Zolotoye calling to stop the planned disengagement.
Ukrainian media reports later said that the disengagement at Zolotoye had been postponed until October 9.
The decision of the Trilateral Contact Group on the disengagement of forces in Donbass was signed by representatives of Ukraine, the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, Russia and the OSCE in September 2016. The document stipulates creating three security zones near Zolotoye, Stanitsa Luganskaya (LPR) and Petrovskoye (DPR). Disengagement at Zolotoye and Petrovskoye remains the last condition for a new Normandy Four summit, which has not been fulfilled to date.