• en-GB1 ru-RU1

The Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements signed on February 12, 2015 has been instrumental in resolving the Ukrainian internal crisis. First of all, this document has led to a virtual cessation of active hostilities, which prevented the conflict in Donbass from growing into a large‑scale civil war in Ukraine. A large number of heavy weapons have been withdrawn from the zones specified in the document. A supplementary agreement on withdrawal of armoured vehicles and artillery systems of calibre less than 100 mm was signed and is being implemented. Steps are being taken to demine several territories within the conflict zone.

The Contact Group on the settlement of the situation in Ukraine and Expert Subgroups of Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk, facilitated by Russia and the OSCE, hold discussions on key aspects of implementing the Minsk Agreements.

However, recently we have witnessed an increase in cases of ceasefire violations and situations where weapons that are supposed to be pulled out appear at the line of contact, threatening the lives of innocent people. To prevent this, efforts are required to ensure strict implementation of the Minsk Agreements with regard to withdrawal of weapons and gradual disengagement of forces in order to avoid direct contact between the armed units of the parties.

Also worrisome is Kiev's intention to launch a new wave of mobilization. The events of summer 2014 and winter 2015 clearly show where such campaigns can lead to. Such step will by no means help to de-escalate the situation and runs counter to the Minsk Agreements.

It is important that military provocations in the south-east not grow into full-scale hostilities all along the "front" line. No one wants a relapse into war, which will have extremely negative consequences for the process of the inter‑Ukrainian conflict resolution.

The stubborn unwillingness of the Ukrainian authorities to engage in a constructive dialogue directly with representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk remains the major problem. Without such dialogue it is impossible to reach a sustainable and viable solution to the Ukrainian crisis. As a result, there is a slowdown in the process of constitutional reform in Ukraine providing for decentralization of power with a reference to the specificities of certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The Minsk Agreements clearly indicate that any amendments to the Ukrainian Constitution relating to the status of Donbass must be agreed with the representatives of these areas and include specific elements of decentralization. These include the status of the Russian language, special economic opportunities for these regions, participation of Donetsk and Luhansk in the appointment of heads of public prosecution offices in their territories and their right to establish a people's militia.

Instead, the Kiev authorities coined a phrase, which was included in the Transitional Provisions of the Constitution, stating that "some parts" of Ukraine may have specific arrangements for self-government that shall be set forth in a separate law. In addition, Kiev neglected the recommendations of the Venice Commission, which proposed, drawing on the experience of other countries (Spain), to stipulate key components of the special status of Donbass in a specific article of the Ukrainian Constitution.

There is no permanent legislation on specific arrangements for self-government (special status) in Donbass. The corresponding law was adopted in September 2014 but its duration is limited to the three-year period (which is already half-way through) and it has never been enforced. Its entry into force was de facto postponed following the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada on March 17, 2015, of amendments conditioning the "launch of the law on the status" on holding local elections in Donbass in accordance with Ukrainian legislation. Organization of these elections is demanded on a take it or leave it approach and implies multiple requirements not envisaged in the Minsk Agreements. That is why the negotiations on modalities have stalled.

At the same time, the Verkhovna Rada adopted two resolutions on "recognition of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as temporarily occupied territories" and on requesting the UN Security Council and the European Council to "deploy an international mission in Ukraine on maintaining peace and security". It is inconsistent with "the letter and spirit of the Minsk Agreements" as well.

There is no law prohibiting the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that took place in the south‑east of Ukraine in 2014–2015. Kiev refuses to introduce in the Verkhovna Rada a resolution on granting amnesty to the rebels similar to that granted to the participants in the events on the Maidan in winter 2013–2014.

Progress on the exchange of prisoners of war is extremely complicated. The Ukrainian party holds proportionally larger number of detainees and remains unwilling to arrange all-for-all exchange sticking to the principle of "quantitative parity". Many of the detained Donbass activists fell victim to criminal prosecution, meaning that Ukraine denied them the status of prisoners of war subject to exchange.

Kiev has a lack of will to implement obligations it assumed on the resumption of socioeconomic ties, including social transfers such as pension payments and other payments. Mechanisms of mobile banking put in place in cooperation with German and French partners cannot be fully operational in the territories along the line of contact between the parties. There take place sporadic subversive acts aiming to hamper power and water supplies (by targeting crucial infrastructure facilities) or obstruct demining works.

Russia is concerned not only about failures in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements but also about the lack of progress on political settlement based on interrelated issues that include carrying out constitutional reform, adopting permanent legislation on the special status of Donbass, holding local elections in the region and granting amnesty to all those involved in the events in the south-east of Ukraine. All these issues cannot be considered in isolation from the overall context or viewed separately.

Russia does wish to join efforts with its foreign partners, primarily within the Normandy format, to achieve concrete steps on advancing the negotiation process and is therefore ready to facilitate a compromise.

There is no alternative to the Minsk process. So above all, we need to ensure strict, consistent and full implementation of the collective arrangements agreed in Minsk on February 12, 2015 especially with regard to relevant obligations on addressing key issues through direct dialogue between Kiev and Donbass.