MOSCOW, December 13. /TASS/. A possible referendum on Donbass, which was not ruled out by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, is Ukraine’s domestic affair but it is interesting to know how the question put for voting could be worded, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.
"A referendum on Donbass is Ukraine’s domestic affair. Naturally, it is interesting to know how the question for this referendum could be worded," he said.
Commenting on the possibility of Russia and Ukraine discussing the problem of Donbass, Peskov recalled that Russia is not a party to the conflict in southeastern Ukraine. "It is Ukraine’s internal conflict and it can be settled only by peaceful means, through direct contacts between official Kiev and representatives of the self-proclaimed republics," he stressed.
In an interview with the 1+1 television channel on Friday, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said he did not rule out a referendum "on Donbass in general." However, in his words, "the matter is not about its status."
Ukraine’s southeastern regions, where most residents are Russian-speakers, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014. In response to grass-roots protests in these areas, the Kiev authorities launched a military operation in Donbass in mid-April 2014. The large-scale shelling of dwelling quarters, including with the use of aviation, led to a humanitarian disaster in the region. Amid these conditions, a referendum on the self-determination of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LPR and DPR) was organized and their state sovereignty was proclaimed on May 12, 2014.
A 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 the people’s militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk and the subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of contact. The deal also lays out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including an amnesty, prisoner swaps, the resumption of economic ties, local elections and constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.