MOSCOW, June 4. /TASS/. Ukraine’s proposal for beginning consultations over Donbass with the United States and Britain without Russia torpedoes the conflict’s settlement, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on the initiative voiced by Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Reznikov, who leads his country’s delegation at negotiations on the Minsk platform.
"I would like to say a few words about Ukraine’s latest attempts to upset the settlement of the conflict in Donbass. Kiev keeps shirking compliance with the Minsk accords, Zakharova said.
Moscow sees Reznikov’s statement as yet another attempt to shirk efforts to settle the conflict in accordance with the Minsk package of measures, upset the Minsk and Normandy platforms for negotiations and create an alternative for them without Donetsk and Lugansk. "It would be of interest to hear the opinions of Germany and France on this score, as long as they are parties to the Normandy talks," Zakharova said.
The diplomat stressed it was not the first time that Ukrainian officials suggested using the Budapest Memorandum for discussing the situation in the east of Ukraine, but in the past all such initiatives were put forward not by official politicians.
"Unlike people who are not participants in the negotiating process Reznikov is well aware that the Budapest Memorandum has no bearing on the internal Ukrainian conflict in Donbass whatsoever," she said.
"Once again we are urging Ukraine to put an end to the sabotage of the Minsk accords and redirect its energy and creativity to implementing its obligations under the comprehensive package of measures as well as the decisions adopted at the Normandy summit in Paris," Zakharova stated.
Normandy Four meeting
The Russian Foreign Ministry has not received as of yet an official proposal to hold a Normandy Four foreign ministerial meeting, Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated.
"We saw media reports concerning a suggestion from the Ukrainian side to convene a Normandy Four meeting at the level of the foreign ministers, but officially no one has referred to us over this issue," she said.
The diplomat reiterated that the foreign ministers had a video conference on April 30, which "practically stated the absence of progress in the implementation of the decisions achieved at a meeting of the Normandy format leaders in Paris on December 9". "Regretfully, we don’t see any progress at the moment either. A constant dialogue continues within the framework of the Minsk Contact Group. We hope that our partners will make every effort towards compliance with the decisions of the Paris summit," the diplomat added.
The participants of the Normandy Four (Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France) summit held in Paris on December 9 highlighted the need for achieving a full-fledged truce in Donbass by the end of 2019. Moreover, on April 30, the Normandy Four foreign ministers held a video conference to call on the parties to the conflict to take additional measures to prop up the ceasefire.
In an article uploaded to the website of the Atlantic Council — a thinktank operating under NATO’s auspices — Reznikov addressed Britain and the United States, which in 1994 put signatures to the Budapest Memorandum, with a proposal for entering into consultations on the situation in Donbass. The first phase of such talks, he argued, should exclude Russia.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union Ukraine inherited a nuclear potential that was the third largest after the United States’ and Russia’s. In December 1994, Ukraine, Russia, the United States and Britain signed the Budapest Memorandum. Under its arrangements Kiev joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty and gave up its nuclear potential, while Russia, the United States and Britain guaranteed Ukraine’s security.
In July 2019, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin with a proposal for holding talks with the leaders of the signatories to the Budapest Memorandum and the Normandy Quartet partners in Minsk, where the Contact Group holds its sessions. Putin replied that Russia was prepared for talks on Ukraine on any platform on the condition of proper preparations.
The leader of Ukraine’s party Batkivshchina, Yulia Timoshenko, last year called for abandoning the Normandy Quartet talks (by Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France) in favor of consultations with the countries that put their signatures to the Budapest Memorandum. The then special representative of the US Department of State for Ukraine Kurt Volker was skeptical about that idea.