MOSCOW, February 12. /TASS/. The three years that passed since the signing of the Package of Measures to implement the Minsk Agreements on February 12, 2015, have failed to produce any significant results, head of the Russian Center for Current Politics Alexei Chesnakov said presenting a report dubbed Three Years of Minsk: Between Light Freezing and Hard Compromise at a TASS roundtable.
"As far as all the four basic aspects of the peace process (politics, economy, social and humanitarian field, security) are concerned, the situation has only deteriorated," he said. "New points of tensions between Ukraine and Donbass have emerged, while the political situation both in Ukraine and the Donbass republics have become less favorable for the settlement process," Chesnakov added.
"Relations between Russia and the West have grown more complicated," he said, adding that "relations between Russia and the United Stated deteriorated a lot."
At the same time, in Chesnakov’s words, events that took place in the September 2017 to February 2018 period provide for cautious optimism concerning the prospects for breaking the political impasse in the peace process.
The Russian expert said that the ongoing trench warfare in Donbass was one of the negative factors, as, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), more ceasefire violations had been recorded in 2017 compared to 2016. One of the reasons for that is the Ukrainian military’s attempts to expand its control over the "grey zone."
The Russian officers’ withdrawal from the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) and the actual termination of its activities also did not help ensure security.
In addition, NATO member states have been increasing the delivery of weapons, including lethal arms, to Kiev. "From Russia’s standpoint, the consequences of these steps are ill-calibrated," Chesnakov noted. "Although the delivery of lethal weapons will not influence the power balance in Donbass, the Ukrainian authorities may review the level of the West’s support and try to change the status quo," he added.
The expert pointed out that Ukraine’s blockade of the Donbass republics and escalating humanitarian and environmental issues were only making the situation worse.
While talking about the political aspect, Chesnakov pointed to the so-called Donbass reintegration law, recently adopted by the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament), which designates Russia as a party to the conflict and claims the areas not controlled by Kiev to be "temporarily occupied."
"As a result, Kiev has deprived itself of the opportunity to hold direct talks with the DPR and LPR [the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics - TASS], now it seeks to make Russia’s participation in the United Nations mission to Donbass impossible," the expert said.
He also mentioned the new Ukrainian education law, which stipulates that teaching in the languages of minorities will be possible only in primary school, while education in secondary schools, colleges and universities will be provided only in Ukrainian.
As for positive results achieved in 2017, Chesnakov pointed to the Russian president’s initiative concerning the deployment of a UN security mission to Donbass, the resumed prisoner exchange process and the prolongation of the law on the special status of Donbass. "However, there are still no new factors that would make it possible to say that the situation along the line of contact will improve even in the medium term," the Russian expert concluded.