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Contact Group on Ukraine proposes more areas of disengagement

There is a number of very important issues left for the Contact Group on Ukraine to solve, a Russian representative says

MINSK, May 24. /TASS/. The Contact Group for a settlement in Ukraine believes it is necessary to go ahead with pulling back armaments away from the disengagement line in Donbass. Its members proposed a number of new areas for creating security zones, the OSCE’s special representative, Martin Sajdik, said after the group’s meeting on Wednesday.

"The participants voiced proposals regarding more disengagement areas. The subgroup for security will look into this matter later," he said.

Sajdik pointed to the complicated security situation in Donbass. At the Contact Group’s meeting "it was stated that the use of outlawed weapons along the disengagement line should not stay unpunished."

More issues to be solved

There is a number of very important issues left for the Contact Group on Ukraine to solve, Boris Gryzlov, Russia’s representative to the Contact Group, said on Wednesday following the group’s meeting in Minsk.

"Though the Ukrainian authorities have been making strong statements emphasizing their commitment to the Minsk Agreements, at the same time, Kiev has been deliberately complicating some issues, particularly the ones concerning the implementation of the Steinmeier formula and the prisoner exchange," he pointed out.

According to Gryzlov, Ukraine "has been openly increasing the number of troops deployed along the line of contact, and seizing new territories in the so-called ‘gray zone’, coming closer to the positions of the Donbass armed units."

"Ukraine has been disrupting the implementation of the Contact Group’s decision on withdrawing military units and hardware in Stanitsa Luganskaya, hampering efforts to ensure the weapons withdrawal along the entire line of contact," the Russian representative said. "This is being done despite the fact that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) has recorded at least three seven-day ceasefires in the Stanitsa Lugansskaya area, which were not violated by either party. The latest record was made on May 18, 2017," he added.

Gryzlov also said that the Ukrainian president had not yet signed a law which would grant amnesty to those taking part in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, though according to the Minsk Agreements, he should have done it in 2014. As a result, conditions for carrying out an all-for-all prisoner exchange have not been created.

"Instead, Kiev continues to impose its tactic of dividing prisoners into categories and exchanging them in small groups," the Russian representative went on to say. "I would like to point out that if the Ukrainian authorities wanted to advance this process than they could release the verified prisoners unilaterally as an act of good will, because they have much more prisoners," Gryzlov added.

He also said that Kiev continued to tighten the economic blockade of Donbass instead of implementing Paragraph 8 of the Package of Measures aimed at restoring economic ties with the region, paying out pensions and social benefits. "Water supplies issue in the Lugansk region is particularly important at present," Gryzlov said.

In his opinion, granting a special status to certain areas of Donbass is crucial for resolving the crisis, however, Ukraine has been neglecting this issue. "Despite the decisions taken by the Normandy Quartet leaders in 2015 and 2016, pointing to the need to fulfill the special status law in accordance with the Steinmeier formula, the Ukrainian authorities have been doing everything they can to make the Normandy Quartet review this issue, thus excluding it from the Minsk process," Gryzlov noted. "I would like to once again call on Kiev to fulfill the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements enshrined in a United Nations Security Council resolution in February 2015," he concluded.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group on settling the situation in eastern Ukraine will be held in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on June 7, said Viktoria Talakina, spokesperson for Denis Pushilin, the special representative of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in the Contact Group.

"The next meeting is planned to be held on June 7," she wrote on Facebook following the Wednesday meeting in Minsk.