On May 24, a regular meeting of the Contact group on the peaceful settlement of the conflict in the Donbass took place in Minsk. The agenda included issues related to the observance of the ceasefire regime, disengagement of forces and means in Stanitsa Luganskaya, the exchange of prisoners, the development and approval of the Rules and Procedures of the subgroups and the Contact group.
As the source at the peace talks reports from Minsk, the permanent representative of the DPR to the Contact group Denis Pushilin, insisting on the need to speed up the verification process in the exchange of prisoners, expressed hope for the constructive position of the Ukrainian ombudsperson Valeria Lutkovskaya.
“According to him, to find an opportunity to release and return the captives to their families is a crucial issue for today. However, the adoption of the law on amnesty remains no less important. All the actions of the negotiators today are preparations for a big exchange, but not the implementation of paragraphs 5 and 6 of the Package of Measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements. To prevent the prosecution of people associated with the conflict in the Donbass, further adoption of the law on amnesty is indispensable,” the source noted.
During the meeting of the Contact group, Denis Pushilin called on the participants in the negotiation process to start implementing the “Steinmeier’s formula” and return to the issue of developing and adopting the Rules and Procedures of the subgroups and the Contact group.
“Both issues play a by no means unimportant role in the political settlement of the conflict. If the “Steinmeier’s formula” is a compromise version of the law on special status’ implementation and was repeatedly supported by the “Normandy format”, the Rules and Procedures constitute a set of rules for the negotiation process, and the need for it is felt by the majority of participants.
The issue of the Rules on the Contact group’s agenda appears at each meeting, but the negotiators have not yet begun to discuss it. Meanwhile, further advancement in the working groups largely depends on the document that regulates how and in what terms the agendas should be coordinated, the results, positions of the parties, disagreements and agreements reached, as well as terms of their execution and “sanctions” for non-fulfillment, should be fixed.
The importance of the Rules and Procedures is that they will not allow the participants in the negotiation process, for one reason or another, to abandon the agreements reached earlier or simply ignore them,” the source said.
According to the source, security issues have become a key topic of today’s Contact group’s meeting in Minsk.
“Daily shelling of the DPR territory and shameless concentrating of the heavy equipment by the Ukrainian side to the contact line led to the fact that only in the last week the territory of the Republic was subjected to shelling more than 300 times, as a result of which one civilian was killed and seven others were wounded, nine objects were completely destroyed and 65 more were injured.
Even today, during the meeting of the negotiators in Minsk, the Petrovsky district of the city of Donetsk was bombarded by the AFU (Armed Forces of Ukraine), three civilians received wounds of varying degrees of severity.
It is impossible to resolve a conflict without a ceasefire. Only complete and reciprocal implementation of agreements on the disengagement of forces and means in the three pilot sites and on the withdrawal of prohibited weapons will achieve the sustainable armistice. The necessity of implementing these agreements was being insisted today by representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
The negotiators paid special attention to the disengagement of forces and means in Stanitsa Luganskaya. Discussion of this issue has been going on for more than half a year, but Ukraine repeatedly disrupts this process. At today’s meeting, an understanding was reached on the implementation of forces and means’ disengagement in the third pilot site on 28 May. However, given the mood of the Ukrainian side, we’re not experiencing any special illusions,” the source concluded.