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US involvement in Normandy Four format ‘off the table’ — Kremlin

Before holding a summit of the Normandy Quartet proper preparations must be made for the parties concerned to communicate at the highest level, the presidential spokesman told the media
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, April 30. /TASS/. The involvement of the US in the Normandy Four format is out of discussion, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.

"This issue is off the table," he said.

Before holding a summit of the Normandy Quartet proper preparations must be made for the parties concerned to communicate at the highest level, the presidential spokesman told the media.

"For the time being it has to be stated that the agreements achieved in Paris [on settling the Ukrainian crisis] have failed to be implemented. For this reason joint work is still to be carried out to prepare the groundwork for communication at the highest level," he said.

Peskov explained that the outlook for holding the summit would be largely determined by the Normandy Quartet’s foreign ministers, who will hold a videoconference on April 30 to discuss progress in settling the Donbass conflict. He called for waiting for the results of that discussion. Also, Peskov said that cooperation at the Contact Group level and among experts was continuing.

Asked who was to blame for the non-compliance with the agreements, Peskov advised everybody to read once again the Paris agreement, which "states everything very clearly and no interpretations or opinions are required."

"For now, the trend towards non-compliance with the agreements that were first achieved in Minsk and then in Berlin and Paris remains," he said.

Peskov said that "this state of affairs does not suit anyone, but regrettably it is still there."

"For this reason, there have been systematic attempts at resuming a dialogue by experts and at identifying the basis for further joint action and for communication at the highest level," Peskov said.

"It is impossible to keep saying the same things again and again. Some agreements must begin to be implemented at last."

New conditions

Kiev should stop putting forward new conditions on ironing out the Ukrainian crisis, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

Peskov commented on Kiev’s demand that the leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics must leave eastern Ukraine’s soil. He recalled that the Minsk peace deal had been initialed by these republics’ representatives.

"It’s impossible to keep introducing new conditions and voicing new positions without discussing them with the representatives of these republics," Peskov commented.

The Kremlin spokesman noted that Moscow was not a party to the conflict and "Ukrainians should discuss this between themselves." "But it is difficult to make any progress without discussing this with these republics’ representatives," he stated.

Peskov also recalled that the leaders of the Normandy Four group (Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France) had held hours-long talks in Paris and endorsed a document. However, the Kremlin spokesman noted that unfortunately there was no major progress in terms of implementing the deal.

Implementation of Minsk Accords

Peace in Ukraine depends entirely on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"As far as the Kremlin is concerned, the best way to establish peace in Donbass and the entire Ukraine is through implementing the Minsk Agreements in full," he pointed out.

In response to a question about differences in the interpretation of the document, Peskov emphasized that the agreements contained no ambiguous interpretations.

When asked if Ukraine was supposed "to return to Donbass," the Kremlin spokesman said that the Minsk Agreements had all the answers. "It is a fundamental document," he noted.

In February 2015, members of the Contact Group on resolving the situation in eastern Ukraine signed a Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, approved by the Normandy Quartet (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine). The document stipulates a comprehensive ceasefire, the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of contact and a reform of the Ukrainian Constitution aimed at decentralizing the country and ensuring "the special status of certain areas in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions." The Package of Measures was enshrined in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2202. The agreements, initially planned to be implemented by the end of 2015, have not been fulfilled yet. Kiev has been hindering the implementation of the Package’s political provisions.

The last Normandy Four summit, which took place in Paris on December 9, 2019, involved French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. The four leaders reaffirmed their commitment to securing a full-fledged ceasefire in Donbass. They also voiced support for a plan to carry out the disengagement of forces in three more areas in Donbass, conduct an all-for-all prisoner exchange and launch the development of laws providing special status to Donbass in accordance with the Steinmeier Formula.