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Kiev seeks to shed accountability for Donbass war by branding Russia ‘aggressor’— expert

From a legal standpoint, the idea of those who drafted the bill to reintegrate Donbass is to boost Kiev’s legal stance for international courts, the expert said

KIEV, August 29. /TASS/. The intention to declare Russia an "aggressor-state" is Kiev’s attempt to abandon responsibility for the war in the Donbass region, Director of the Ukrainian Institute of Policy Analysis and Management Ruslan Bortnik said in an interview with TASS.

"From a political point of view, this decision contains an element of dodging responsibility for what happened in Donbass, and the share of the Ukrainian leadership’s guilt is very significant," he said commenting on the bill to reintegrate Donbass. "This is an attempt to pin all the blame on Russia, Donetsk and Lugansk."

According to Bortnik, by designating Russia as "an aggressor," President Pyotr Poroshenko is trying to flirt with Ukraine’s far right to chalk up extra political points in the run-up to the elections and at the negotiating table with international partners.

From a legal standpoint, the idea of those who drafted the bill is to boost Kiev’s legal stance for international courts. "This definition will block the way for Donbass residents to file lawsuits with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), as it will make it possible for Ukraine to ignore these lawsuits and say that its sovereignty does not extend to the occupied territories," he explained. This sort of definition on the level of Ukrainian domestic legislation can also serve as Kiev’s additional argument at the UN international court against Russia, Bortnik said.

For his part, Ukrainian political scientist Andrey Zolotarev emphasized, when commenting on the bill, that recognizing Russia as an "aggressor-state" could mean the unilateral denunciation of the Minsk agreements. "After the emergence of such provisions in its legislation one could say that the Minsk agreements are de facto denounced unilaterally," he noted. If Russia is recognized as an "aggressor-state," that means that Kiev "should quit the Minsk agreements," the expert added.

Russian officials have stated on numerous occasions that Moscow is not a party to the Ukrainian conflict and acts solely as a mediator to resolve the crisis. Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed in June that southeastern Ukraine "is not occupied by Russia, Russia does not occupy any territories."