KIEV, June 4. /TASS/. Leonid Kuchma has returned to the Contact Group on peaceful settlement in Donbass as the plenipotentiary envoy of Kiev after he was granted broader powers, Ukrainian political consultant Mikhail Chaplyga told TASS on Tuesday.
"His decision to return to the group was influenced by the issue of powers. At the meeting with him, they were discussing that Kuchma will have specific influence tools and a rather extensive mandate. In this situation, he apparently said that he is ready to be responsible for the things he has influence over. In the previous format, he did not have such influence," the consultant pointed out. He underlined that "Kuchma is one of the people who could and might be useful, but unfortunately in the paradigm that was before he was responsible for everything, but did not have any powers and could not influence the processes emerging from the talks in the Contact Group."
The expert stressed that now the envoy is evidently ready to rejoin the work in Minsk because his conditions were met at the highest level. "He put forward the conditions for his work: real influence tools, access to the top figure and capability of aligning positions where he has leverage. When there’s mandate to influence the position of the whole team, the information policy, statements, the negotiating stance and the authorities, especially special services in terms of tasks that need to be solved, than there is use in doing this and working," he concluded.
On June 3, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky appointed Leonid Kuchma the plenipotentiary envoy of Kiev to the Contact Group. He already occupied this post before in 2014-2018. In autumn 2018, Kuchma resigned, citing fatigue and age (he turned 80 in September). However, he said that he would not want to "analyze all the reasons which prompt" him to resign and that it is difficult to negotiate "when you know that there’s no result." Therefore, Kuchma hinted that his age is not the main reason for him quitting the negotiations.