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Contacts between Russia, US crucial for resolving Donbass conflict — experts

In the second half of 2017, contacts between Russia and US became the main platform for holding talks on Ukraine and Donbass

MOSCOW, February 12. /TASS/. Contacts between Russia and the US have become the main negotiating track aimed at resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine and gave an impetus to the stalled Minsk process, says a report dubbed Three Years of Minsk: Between Light Freezing and Hard Compromise, which was drawn up by the Russian Center for Current Politics.

The report, presented by the Center’s head Alexei Chesnakov at a TASS roundtable, points out that "in the second half of 2017, the negotiating track involving Russian Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov and US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker became the main platform for holding talks on Ukraine and Donbass." "The Surkov-Volker track has given an impetus to the stalled Minsk Process," the document adds.

"A mandate for the United Nations mission to Donbass and its correlation to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements topped the agenda," experts pointed out.

The report’s authors also said that following the formation of the new US administration, bilateral meetings between the Russian and US special representatives for Ukraine could only be resumed after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow in April 2017.

On July 7, 2017, the US Department of State appointed former US ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker to be Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. Surkov and Volker have so far held four meetings. The first of them took place in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on August 21, 2017, the second and third were held in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on October 7 and November 17, 2017, respectively, and the fourth one took place in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, on January 26, 2018.