MOSCOW, June 4. /TASS/. Russia’s envoy to the Contact Group for the settlement in the east of Ukraine Boris Gryzlov expressed hope on Tuesday that the appointment of Leonid Kuchma as Kiev’s envoy to the talks in Minsk would help reach progress.
The first meeting of the Contact Group under the new Ukrainian president will be held on June 5, Gryzlov told reporters. "This meeting could have taken place two weeks earlier, but Kiev needed additional time to prepare, and we agreed to give them some time. At the moment, Kiev's delegation has been finalized, its head Leonid Danilovich Kuchma was officially presented yesterday," he added.
"This is a second appointment to the Contact Group for Leonid Kuchma, and thus the new Kiev delegation won’t need much time to get into the swing of work," Gryzlov went on to say. "The former Kiev government was doing its best to complicate the situation in Donbass, leaving a bitter legacy behind," he said.
There have been no changes for the better in the first few weeks under the new president, he added. "Meanwhile, people were expecting changes, at least an end to shellings," he stressed.
Now, it is important to launch substantive discussion and work out necessary solutions. "The first among them are the ceasefire and the start of the process to disengage forces in Donbass," Gryzlov said. "Besides, it is necessary to unblock the dialogue of Kiev and Donbass on humanitarian issues, including the issue of detainees. The Kiev authorities have a backlog of commitments to this respect as well," he added.
Progress in the settlement of each of the issues at the Wednesday’s meeting depends only on Kiev, he stressed. "The position of the other side in the conflict, Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as the position of both mediators — Russia and the OSCE — has always been aimed at the implementation of the Minsk agreements," the Russian envoy stressed.
Kiev can end the conflict with Donbass only through dialogue with Donbass, he said. "The main issue of the upcoming meeting is whether Kiev is ready for a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk," he went on to say. "It is absolutely clear that Ukraine can get out of the crisis only in the mode of political dialogue between Kiev and Donbass. There has been no such dialogue as of yet. Shelling by the Ukrainian Armed Forces continues, the situation remains extremely tense, and it is difficult to expect changes for the better," the Russian envoy concluded.
On June 3, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky appointed Leonid Kuchma as the plenipotentiary envoy of Kiev to the Contact Group. He already occupied this post before in 2014-2018.