Ukraine

Joint briefing by Leonid Kuchma and Iuliia Mendel: Meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk gave a restrained optimism on the further settlement of the military conflict

The principled position is that all actions on the settlement should be reciprocal, bilateral and fully in line with Ukrainian legislation.

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A sustainable and lasting ceasefire in Donbas is the key issue to return peace, and yesterday’s meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk gave a restrained optimism on the further settlement of the military conflict. It was stated by Press Secretary of the President of Ukraine Iuliia Mendel during a joint briefing with Head of the Ukrainian delegation in the Trilateral Contact Group Leonid Kuchma.

At the same time, a lot of interpretations of the negotiations arose in the media. Leonid Kuchma never told that the Ukrainian military could not open fire in response.

“The phrase widely spread in the media was taken out of context. In the context it was said that this is a mutual commitment. The Minsk agreements stipulate a ceasefire. The Ukrainian side must do it for its part, but the Russian side must definitely cease fire for its own. And the call to cease fire, to stop shooting, concerned primarily the opposite side. This is a two-way road,” the Press Secretary of the President emphasized.

Iuliia Mendel noted that during the hostilities in Donbas, the other side had been constantly provoking Ukrainian military forces. Illegal armed groups installed grenade launchers in kindergartens, schools, on the roofs of residential buildings. Therefore, it is necessary to elaborate the mechanisms of separating the troops.

“We urge all TCG participants to intensify their work. Meetings in Minsk are extremely important, but daily work has to take place between them. The security subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group has to prepare documents that will allow the beginning of forces separation. After that, we will be able to begin the reconstruction of the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska, one of the hottest spots in the east,” the Press Secretary of the President noted.

For his part, Leonid Kuchma stressed that he was pleased with the tone of conversation during the yesterday’s meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group.

“I think there is a desire to change something, to achieve progress in all the problems that exist today. The main problems are security issues, the release of our hostages, our sailors,” the Head of the Ukrainian delegation in the TCG said.

He also stated that the agreed ceasefire regime had not been adhered to yet.

“Yesterday we agreed that by June 19, the security group should prepare a document with protective mechanisms – what should be done to make this regime work. The movement should be on both sides,” Leonid Kuchma emphasized.

During the meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group, the issue of trade restrictions with certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions was also discussed. It needs to be resolved exclusively in the format of the bilateral movement, as stated by Leonid Kuchma.

The restriction was introduced by the decision of the National Security and Defense Council in March 2017 in response to the introduction of the ruble zone, pseudo-nationalization of Ukrainian public and private enterprises, including those with foreign capital, as well as private property of our fellow citizens in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, termination of payment of taxes from those territories to Ukraine.

The corresponding restrictions can only be lifted step by step in response to a gradual return to the Ukrainian legal field.

This topic was raised at the initiative of the Russian side and leaders of the armed groups. In this regard, Leonid Kuchma notes that if such a desire really exists, then, given the abolition of the ruble zone and illegal decisions on pseudo-nationalization, we are ready to restore the issues of economic reintegration on the terms of returning to the Ukrainian legal field, according to the Minsk agreements.

“We declare that the movement should be bilateral. If you nationalized all Ukrainian enterprises during the ban, first give us an answer when you are going to return them,” Leonid Kuchma said.

The briefing participants also emphasized that the national interests of the country, its territorial integrity and sovereignty were the cornerstone for the Ukrainian delegation in the TCG. The principled position is that all actions on the settlement should be reciprocal, bilateral and fully in line with Ukrainian legislation.

“We would like to remind those, who began to incite panic today with talks about surrender, that two occasions of Ukraine nearly capitulating in Minsk have already taken place: the first – after Ilovaisk, the second – after Debaltseve. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, just like all the representatives of Ukraine in the TCG, instead wants to gain a victory for Ukraine in Minsk,” Iuliia Mendel noted.

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