MINSK, October 1. /TASS/. The Ukrainian delegation has signed the Steinmeier formula on Tuesday during a session of the Contact Group for the settlement in eastern Ukraine, a source close to the Minsk negotiations informed TASS.
"Leonid Kuchma, who represents Kiev at the meeting, has signed the document approved earlier by the aides to the Normandy Four leaders," they noted.
The so-called Steinmeier formula, which describes a mechanism of granting special status to Donbass, was supposed to be signed during the previous meeting of the Contact Group on September 18. However, at the last moment, the Ukrainian delegation refused to ink the formula approved earlier, causing other participants of the talks to doubt Kiev’s commitment to establishing an order of legal consolidation of the special status demanded in the Minsk Agreements.
Earlier on Tuesday, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that today’s session of the Contact Group would clear up Kiev’s stance regarding the Steinmeier formula.
"We heard various statements from Kiev regarding the previous refusal. They spoke about both a technical error and misunderstanding. So, today, of course, everyone expects the situation to be clarified, whether Ukraine’s previous position has been transformed, whether the Ukrainian side confirms its departure from the previous agreements or, on the contrary, revises its confirmation of previous obligations," Peskov said. He noted that a possible refusal by the Kiev representatives to sign the formula would impede the negotiation process on Ukrainian regulation.
In late 2015, the then-German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier put forward a plan that later became known as the "Steinmeier formula." The plan stipulates that a special status be granted to Donbass in accordance with the Minsk Agreements. In particular, the document envisages that Ukraine’s special law on local self-governance will take effect in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions on a temporary basis on the day of local elections, becoming permanent after the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) issues a report on the vote’s results. The idea was endorsed at the Normandy Four meeting in Paris on October 2, 2015, and has been known as the Steinmeier formula since.
However, in the wake of the formula’s approval, Kiev began to put forward additional conditions for its implementation. Only after Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky assumed office, the Ukrainian government agreed to continue the discussion of the formula. In September, aides to the Normandy Four leaders agreed that the text of the Steinmeier formula must be approved by all members of the Contact Group as a first step towards stage-by-stage implementation of other points of the Minsk Agreements and for the preparations for the new meeting between leaders of Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France.