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Zelensky says local elections in Donbass possible only after disengagement of forces

The president highlighted that the elections are to be organized under Ukrainian laws

KIEV, September 13. /TASS/. Local elections in Donbass, which are envisaged by the Minsk agreements, will be possible only after the disengagement of forces along the entire contact line and are to be organized under Ukrainian laws, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said on Friday.

"It is a matter of first exchange of people and then disengagement of forces. Today, we are speaking about disengagement in Zolotoye and Petrovskoye, then along the entire area of 400 kilometers. And only after that we will be able to speak about the format of elections," he said. "Local elections there must be organized under Ukrainian laws."

Peace settlement of the conflict in Donbass rests on the Package of Measures, known as Minsk-2, that was signed by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising senior representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the European security watchdog OSCE on February 12, 2015, after marathon 16-hour talks between the leaders of the Normandy Four nations, namely Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine. The 13-point document envisages a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk and subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement. The deal also lays out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including amnesty, resumption of economic ties, local elections and a constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.

The conflict settlement formula for Donbass that was proposed by the then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in late 2015 envisages the enforcement of the Ukrainian law on a special procedure of local self-government on certain territories of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions on a temporary basis on the day of local elections in Donbass, and on a permanent basis after the OSCE publishes a report on their results.