MOSCOW, April 19. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky was used by the West against Russia to ignore the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday in an exclusive interview with India Today television channel.
"I think the West played Zelensky against Russia. And [the West] did everything to strengthen him in the desire to ignore the Minsk Agreements," Lavrov said. "Had he [Zelensky] cooperated in implementing the Minsk Agreements, the crisis would be over a long [time] ago."
The Minsk agreements are the cornerstone of the Donbass peace process. The deal outlines moves to declare a ceasefire, withdraw weapons, declare amnesty, restore economic ties and conduct constitutional reform in Ukraine through dialogue with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR, LPR), aimed at decentralizing power and providing a special status to certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
However, the negotiation process has actually stalled because of Kiev’s refusal to fulfill the political provisions of the Minsk accords.
In particular, Kiev rejected holding any direct dialogue with the DPR and the LPR, opposed the consolidation of the regions’ special status in the constitution, and also demanded that a section of the border with Russia in Donbass be placed under Ukrainian control until the political part of the deal is implemented.
Russian special military operation
On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced recognizing the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Russia recognized the Donbass republics in accordance with the DPR and LPR constitutions within the boundaries of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as of the beginning of 2014.
Russian President Putin said in a televised address on February 24 that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in Ukraine in order to protect people "who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years."
The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories, noting that the operation was aimed at the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine.