All news

Ukraine may leave Minsk Accords if it takes too long to implement them — top diplomat

If the Minsk process proves to be ineffective, Kiev will have several options, according to Ukraine's foreign minister
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Pristaiko EPA-EFE/STEPAN FRANKO
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Pristaiko

KIEV, November 14. /TASS/. Kiev may withdraw from the Minsk Agreements if it takes too long to implement them, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Pristaiko said in an interview with BBC News Ukrainian.

"It is possible if we see that there is no end in sight to this process. It is a very unpopular statement and our Western partners probably won't like it," the top diplomat pointed out.

He stressed that these agreements were not "a value in themselves," while "the nation’s survival" was the highest value. "If we see that they are not working, which constantly delays the process, sooner or later a decision will be made to pull out of the Minsk process," Pristaiko added.

According to him, much will depend on the next meeting of the Normandy Four countries (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine). "It would be right to ask us about it when we come back [from the meeting]. If we achieve nothing, it will be logical to think about whether we need the Minsk [Agreements]," he noted.

Pristaiko agreed that Kiev’s possible withdrawal from the accords could prompt the European Union to remove sanctions on Russia. "This is the price of the Minsk Agreements. But I would like to point out that sanctions may be removed even if we don’t pull out," he assumed. According to the Ukrainian foreign minister, the country’s president, government and the entire society should make a final decision on "whether these sanctions can be a deterrent or Kiev will eventually have to quit the Minsk Agreements and start searching for other ways to establish peace," Pristaiko emphasized.

If the Minsk process proves to be ineffective, Kiev will have several options, he went on to say. "In particular, if there are no Minsk Agreements, we will need to request that a peacekeeping mission be deployed [to Donbass]," Pristaiko specified. At the same time, he did not rule out that the step could be taken within the Minsk Agreements. "It is a way to upgrade the agreements. If we don’t see them work, we will probably have to ask a third party for assistance," he said.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky stated earlier that he was hopeful of resolving all issues related to the Donbass conflict within a year. "It seems to me that since we have formed a new group within the Minsk process, we can’t lose more than a year," he said during his press marathon in Kiev in October.

Minsk Agreements

In February 2015, members of the Contact Group on resolving the situation in eastern Ukraine signed a Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, approved by the Normandy Quartet (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine). The document stipulates a comprehensive ceasefire, the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of contact and a reform of the Ukrainian Constitution aimed at decentralizing the country and ensuring "the special status of certain areas in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions."

The Package of Measures was enshrined in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2202.

The agreements, initially planned to be implemented by the end of 2015, have not been fulfilled yet. Kiev has been dodging the implementation of the Package’s political provisions, citing security issues as one of its reasons.

Impossibility of direct talks with Donbass

The Ukrainian foreign minister has announced that Kiev would not change its position of not engaging in direct negotiations with the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. "This is a basis of our position. It will remain in effect," he told BBC News Ukrainian.

When asked about the elections in Donbass, the minister claimed that results of all the previous elections held there since 2014 should be cancelled.

"The results of the so-called preliminary elections [in the DPR and LPR] should be cancelled to pave way for normal elections, while all these 'leaders' and 'ministers' should be abolished after the [new] authorities enter [the territories]," Pristaiko noted.

"The process of [Donbass] reintegration will be painful and full of unpleasant compromises," the minister added.