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Zelensky once again rules out elections in Donbass

The Ukrainian president said holding those elections would be impossible until Kiev regains control over those territories

KIEV, September 16. /TASS/. Ukraine will not hold elections in Donbass until it regains control over the region, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky told Austria’s National Council (lower house of parliament) President Wolfgang Sobotka.

"Vladimir Zelensky and the chair of Austria’s parliament held a detailed discussion about issues of holding the elections in Donbass territories temporarily outside the government’s control. The Ukrainian president said holding those elections would be impossible until foreign troops and illegal armed groups withdraw and Ukraine regains control over those territories. Besides, the elections must be fair and transparent, with all international standards observed," the Ukrainian leader’s press office said.

Sobotka, in turn, said that Austria supports settling the Eastern Ukrainian conflict through negotiations in the Normandy format, involving Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France.

The Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements signed on February 12, 2015 is the basis for all Donbass peace negotiations.

In late 2015, 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 Cooperation 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.

Recently, Kiev has repeatedly called for revising the Minsk Agreements. In particular, President Vladimir Zelensky spoke about changing the order of actions - specifically regarding handing over border control to Ukraine and conducting local elections.