Despite the Russian Federation’s destructive position on the conflict in Donbas, Ukraine continues to seek for viable options to enhance the negotiation process and unblock the process of peaceful settlement. Against the backdrop of the difficult security situation in conflict zone, we seek to restart the negotiation process giving additional impetus and as to set the stage for the holding of the N4 Summit in Berlin.
Ukrainian position within the negotiations in the Normandy Format (N4) at the level of ministers of foreign affairs (April 30) and political advisers (May 6) as well as the later initiatives within Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) clearly demonstrate this attitude.
The Normandy Format Negotiations
Ukraine continues to seek for viable options to resolve the conflict within TCG and N4. We demonstrate readiness for compromises and initiate new steps to silence weapons and alleviate sufferings of people.
We remain committed to the constructive approach and expect the same from the Russian Federation. Ukraine has already demonstrated this commitment, in particular by agreeing on the Steinmeier formula in September 2019 and re-launching the disengagement process to pave the way for the N4 Paris Summit in December 2019.
In this regard, we deem it necessary to give a boost for implementation of the Paris Summit Conclusions and to intensify the TCG activities in the general context of peaceful resolution.
Unfortunately, all agreements aimed at improving of security on the ground, reached at the recent N4 Summit, still wait for their implementation by Russia.
Recent ministerial VTC in the N4 format once again proved to our commitment to the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas.
Taking into account „the security first” principle Ukraine promotes the next deliverables:
- a new ceasefire regime
– Proper security conditions are extremely important now, when COVID-19 multiplies the threats from the ceasefire violations and increases vulnerability of the local population. Against this backdrop Ukraine drew a special attention during the Ministerial N4 talks to the call by the UN Secretary General for the full and comprehensive ceasefire during the pandemic.
– We expect Russia to demonstrate constructive approach while discussing within the TCG the modalities of the new ceasefire regime, as agreed by the Ministers.
- additional disengagement areas
– We are ready to discuss a compromise on a package solution concerning 3 new areas;
- new crossing points on the LoC
– Russia must implement its commitment from Berlin 2016 to open Zolote crossing point. As initiated within the TCG earlier, Ukraine proposes a draft roadmap to use mirror approach and to open new crossing points in Zolote (earlier agreed) and Schastia (not yet agreed) simultaneously.
- updated demining plan
– The decision of N4 leaders to support the development and implementation of an updated mine clearance plan (based on the decision on mine clearance of the Trilateral Contact Group of March 3, 2016) remains unimplemented.
– Regrettably, Ukraine 3 times proposed to discuss the demining issue within the TCG and Russian side blocked our initiatives.
– The SMM registered the progress in demining by the Ukrainian Army (SMM daily report of 21.04.20) in the run-up to Easter holidays, while the reciprocal steps by Russia and its proxies have not been taken
- restoring border control remains a key element of the conflict resolution process
– Establishment of security zones in the border areas of both states with the OSCE permanent monitoring and verification on the border, as prescribed by the Minsk Protocol, would be a move in the right direction.
– Ukraine proposes to establish a TCG working group on the border issues.
As it has been repeatedly stated by the President of Ukraine, all security preconditions, including control over the border, must be met and full compliance with Ukrainian legislation must be ensured in order to launch the electoral process.
Access of candidates, media, IDPs and observers; their safety and security; equal opportunities for campaigning, political, security and legal frameworks, election administration and possible external influence must be crucial elements, along with the situation on election day, for assessing the local elections in Donbas.
The dialogue of the ministers within the N4 format on security and political aspects will be continued in May.
Recent initiatives in the Trilateral Contact Group
Following the N4 ministerial talks Ukraine proceeds from the need to boost the dialogue within the TCG and to make the TCG capable to take long awaited decisions aimed at de-escalation and improving the humanitarian situation on the ground.
To this end Ukraine has decided to increase level of Ukrainian delegation by including top officials of the Government and heads of parliamentary committees.
We also continue efforts to stop the self-proclaimed monopoly of Russian occupation administration to speak on behalf of the local population of the occupied territories. We look for options to engage IDPs from Donbas, who were forced to leave their homes since 2014, as well as peaceful residents of the occupied areas, who have not been involved in the illegal armed formations and do not hold Russian passports, into the settlement process.
Our initiative does not in any way change the configuration of the Trilateral contact group and idea behind this framework – Ukraine and Russia as parties to the conflict and the OSCE as mediator.
Ukrainian position with regard to Russian claims on the necessity to ensure “direct dialogue between Kyiv and Donetsk/Luhansk” remains unchanged. We will speak with Russia as a party to the conflict and its initiator.