Comments and statements by Foreign Ministry Spokesman

17 November 202011:59

Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on the joint French-German statement on the settlement in Donbass

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Several days ago, the Federal Foreign Office of Germany and the French Foreign Ministry made a joint statement, in which they highly assessed Ukraine’s compliance with the obligations agreed at the Normandy-format summit held in Paris on December 9, 2019. They pointed out, in part, that Ukraine has allegedly taken steps to improve the conditions at the crossing points before winter sets in and to ease the suffering of the people in eastern Ukraine.

We are astounded by such a liberal interpretation of facts. Berlin and Paris are fully aware that the scheduled simultaneous opening of the Zolotoye and Schastye crossing points on the contact line on November 10 was undermined by Kiev.

In accordance with the parameters coordinated between Ukraine and Lugansk, the Schastye crossing point was to be used exclusive by vehicles, including humanitarian convoys. However, Kiev abandoned the agreement right before the opening of this crossing point, instead opening it for pedestrians on November 10, although it knew that Lugansk was not prepared to operate the crossing point in this format.

It is not surprising that Lugansk regards this as a provocation. The Kiev authorities cynically exploited the people’s desire to return home to see their families, as a result of which they had to wait in vain at the crossing point.

Kiev has not responded to numerous calls for coordinating the details of the agreed bus crossing at Zolotoye. There is a further three kilometres stretch of the neutral zone to cover. By refusing to coordinate the details of the buss crossing and to ensure normal conditions there, especially in light of the approaching winter, Kiev has demonstrated its disregard for its citizens, most of whom are elderly people with health problems.

Kiev also persistently delayed the coordination of conditions for an ICRC humanitarian convoy to go through the Schastye crossing point towards Lugansk, which was scheduled to take place on November 17. Is it for these steps to improve the conditions at the crossing points and to ease people’s suffering that Germany and France are praising Ukraine?

In this context, their call for reopening all existing crossing points on the contact line without delay and despite the epidemiological situation sounds cynical. Moreover, it has been addressed to Russia, which has as little to do with this situation as Germany and France. Therefore, we call on them to do this.

Furthermore, we are surprised by the absence of any critical response to the systematic attempts made by Ukrainian officials to disavow the Minsk Agreements.  The situation came to a head when Kiev proposed a draft “plan of joint steps of the Tripartite Contact Group’s members for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements,” which runs counter to the spirit and letter of the 2015 Minsk Package of Measures.

This plan and the recent Ukrainian draft laws on interning Russian citizens and punishment for refusing to admit the fact of Russia’s “aggression” offer a clear insight into the so-called plans B and C, which President Vladimir Zelensky mentioned several times. The so-called “full demilitarisation, disarmament and demobilisation of combatants,” the “return” of Ukrainian military units to Donbass, “the restoration of full control over the Russian-Ukrainian border” and the subsequent “filtration” and “internment of political suspects” before holding elections and without specifying political terms for the settlement of the conflict: this is a synopsis of Ukraine’s objectives set out in its draft plan for the alleged “implementation of the Minsk Agreements.”

Berlin’s and Paris’s refusal to take notice of these facts can only be interpreted as their approval of Kiev’s attempts to undermine the foundations for the conflict settlement formulated in the Minsk Package of Measures and approved by the UN Security Council.

Our Normandy format partners should abandon their double standards and doublespeak and instead take the path of unbiased assistance to the restoration of peace in south-eastern Ukraine. If France and Germany have other objectives, they should say so frankly and openly.

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