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Ukraine once again sets preconditions for implementing Steinmeier’s formula

Earlier on Wednesday, it became known that the Ukrainian delegation refused to sign a previously agreed document on the Steinmeier formula

KIEV, September 18. /TASS/. During a regular Contact Group meeting in Minsk on Wednesday, the Ukrainian delegation has once again put forward a set of strict preconditions for implementing the political section of the Minsk agreements, said Darya Olifer, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian chief negotiator.

"The Ukrainian side has no objections in principle about the so-called Steinmeier’s formula, but its implementation will be possible only once a series of preconditions is fulfilled," Olifer wrote on her Facebook page.

Ukraine’s chief negotiator Leonid Kuchma earlier said that those preconditions included "full ceasefire, conditions for effective OSCE SMM monitoring on the entire territory of Ukraine, withdrawal of foreign armed groups and equipment from the territory of Ukraine, disengagement of forces along the entire contact line, normal working conditions for the Ukrainian Central Election Commission, Ukrainian political parties, media and foreign observers, control over the Russian-Ukrainian border."

Earlier on Wednesday, it became known that the Ukrainian delegation refused to sign a previously agreed document on the Steinmeier formula, a compromise mechanism of vesting the Donbass region with a special status, as envisaged by the Minsk Agreements on Ukrainian reconciliation.

In 2015, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the then German foreign minister, suggested a special procedure to enforce special status to Donbass. In line with the document, the special status should be granted to that region of Ukraine first on a temporary basis on the day of local elections there. Special status will be granted permanently after the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) publishes a report confirming the legitimacy of election results.

In February 2015, participants of the Contact Group for settling the crisis in Donbass signed the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, known as Minsk-2, which had been earlier backed by the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) leaders. The document envisages a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias in the self-proclaimed Donbass republics and a subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement, as well as setting up security zones, amnesty and restoration of economic ties and paying of social benefits to Donbass citizens. Besides, under the deal, control over a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border should be handed over to the Kiev government only after Donbass is vested with a permanent special status.

A constitutional reform and the decentralization of powers in Ukraine are one of key points of this document. The deal stipulates holding local elections in the areas with a special status, in coordination with the region’s representatives and in line with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s standards.

However, Kiev’s reluctance to implement the political section of the agreement was one of the main reasons why the reconciliation talks remained stalled for more than four years, under the previous government of Pyotr Poroshenko.