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Kiev’s top diplomat sees three scenarios for East Ukraine

In his words, "the president of Ukraine and his entire team are trying to complete what our predecessors started, beginning with the Minsk process"
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Pristayko AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Pristayko
© AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

KIEV, October 8. /TASS/. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Pristayko said he saw three possible scenarios regarding the country’s self-proclaimed republics: to continue negotiations within the framework of the Minsk process, to stall the peace process indefinitely or to give up those territories once and for all.

"Three variants are possible. I see at least three of them. [The first one is] to try to negotiate as part of the unfair process in which we got into many years ago [the Minsk agreements]. The second tactics is to stall everything while our solders are getting killed, until people on the other side of the line of contact start hating us and we will never be able to return them back. Or there is the third variant, to give up this territory of Ukraine once and for all," he told the ICTV channel.

In his words, "the president of Ukraine and his entire team are trying to complete what our predecessors started, beginning with the Minsk process."

Pristayko added that if the Minsk process fails, Kiev may request an international mission "to keep peace between us, or even better, on the entire occupied territory."

Disengagement issues

On Monday, Pristayko said the disengagement process was supposed to begin on Monday near the villages of Petrovskoye and Zolotoye, but it did not start. "Today, the disengagement was meant to take place. Unfortunately, as you know, Petrovskoye and Zolotoye were attacked several days ago, and the disengagement must begin on the seventh day after the last attack. We need to wait until the next seven-day period is over, which will prove that the sides are taking it seriously," Pristayko said.

The statement was met with raised eyebrows in the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR). DPR foreign minister Natalya Nikonorova accused Kiev of violating the disengagement agreements, which this time made no mention of the seven-day ceasefire period. According to the DPR envoy of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the seven-day rule was not applicable in this case. He added that the disengagement process should have begun on October 7, the date approved by the Contact Group, and continue for 30 days in both areas simultaneously.

Later in the day, the 112 Ukraine TV channel reported, citing the command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, that the disengagement was rescheduled for noon of Wednesday, October 9. A Moscow-based source close to the negotiation process confirmed the information.

Steinmeier formula

The disengagement schedule was agreed during the latest Contact Group meeting on Ukrainian settlement, which took place on October 1. During the same meeting, the sides also approved "the Steinmeier formula" on granting a special status to Donbass. Still, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Pristayko reported on Monday that Ukrainian troops would not start the disengagement in the Zolotoye and Petrovskoye areas until seven days pass since the moment of the last attack in this region, which occurred several days ago.

The decision to establish three security zones in Donbass (Stanitsa Luganskaya, Zolotoye and Petrovskoye) was taken in September 2016. In the fall of 2016, the sides disengaged forces in Zolotoye and Petrovskoye, however, after that, the Ukrainian troops returned to the area.