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Lugansk set to give up on Steinmeier’s peace plan citing Kiev’s foot-dragging

MOSCOW, May 23. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) is ready to resume the word-for-word fulfillment of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements as the Kiev authorities are unwilling to discuss the Steinmeier formula, Rodion Miroshnik, an envoy to the Contact Group on Ukraine, told TASS.

While speaking ahead of the Contact Group meeting, scheduled to be held in Minsk on May 24, he said that "if Kiev does not like the Steinmeier formula, then we are ready to go back to the word-for-word implementation of the Package of Measures and demand that Donbass be immediately granted a special status," he said.

Steinmeier formula

In late 2015, then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier came up with a mechanism aimed at the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

The mechanism stipulates that a temporary special status will be granted to Donbass on the day of the election while the region will receive a permanent special status after the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) issues a report confirming the election to be lawful. The mechanism was approved by the Normandy Quartet (Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France) and has been referred to as the "Steinmeier formula."

Package of measures

According to Miroshnik, the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements particularly stipulates that within 30 days after the Package has been signed, the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament) should adopt a document defining the territories that would receive a special status, and also ensure that the document becomes a law. Only after that is done, the parties may start discussing tways to conduct regional elections.

The Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements was signed in February 2015 at a summit of the Normandy Quartet (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine). The 13-point document stipulates declaring a ceasefire in Donbass, withdrawing heavy weapons from the line of contact and taking measures aimed at facilitating the search for a political solution to the conflict.

Compromised option

The LPR representative said that the Steinmeier formula, agreed on by the leaders of the Normandy Quartet at their 2015 Paris meeting and 2016 Berlin meeting, had not been "translated into an official document signed by the leaders."

"The formula has been considered to be a compromise on whether a special status issue should be tackled first or elections in Donbass should be conducted," Miroshnik pointed out.

"As representatives of the (self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk People’s) Republics, we insisted that first, a special status be provided to us and after that elections be conducted, but we were also ready for a compromise, accepting the Steinmeier formula in order to break the deadlock in talks and move forward to address all the political issues," the LPR representative said.

At the same time, he noted that Kiev "has been sabotaging discussions of the Steinmeier formula for six months, so the mechanism to provide a special status to Donbass cannot be put into effect, thus the Ukrainian authorities have been disregarding a decision made by the Normandy Quartet leaders."

"On May 24, the next round of talks is expected to be held in Minsk. Ways to implement the special status law will top the political subgroup’s agenda," Miroshnik stressed.