Contact Group proposes to introduce “school truce”

On August 22, a regular meeting of the Contact Group on the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbass took place in the capital of the Republic of Belarus. In the framework of today’s meeting, the current truce was summed up and the proposal to introduce another one on the eve of the new school year was considered in addition to a traditional discussion of ceasefire issues.

Also, the agenda of the meeting included questions concerning the implementation of the Framework decision on separation of forces and means, preparation of critical civil infrastructure for winter season, harmonization of “Steinmeier formula”, as well as issues related to the operation of a mobile network operator Vodafone in the territory of the Republics.

According to a source at the peace negotiations, a significant result of the two-day work of the Subgroup on Security Issues was the resumption of obligations of the parties to observe the ceasefire in advance of the new school year.

ʺBinding the introduction of a new truce to significant events has certain logic. In this case, we expect the children of Donbass to be able to study in a calm and peaceful environment. According to the agreement, the parties will renew their commitments under a new truce beginning from 00:01 on August 29. As before, the adoption of additional measures of ceasefire control by the parties remains to be the most important condition and the non-observance of which allows committing new crimes against humanity by the armed forces of Ukraine, among which the recent flagrant case of nightly shelling of a frontline settlement Krutaya Balka with incendiary shells, as a result of which a dwelling house of an elderly woman Nina Gorban was burned down. She managed to get out of a burning house, only taking documents with her, left without a house and with no means of support,ʺ the source said.

It recalled that the Ukrainian side was fighting against its citizens not only by means of weapons and that the recently published UN report focused on the fact that the government of Ukraine had not taken any measures to investigate the death of civilians during the entire period of conflict.

ʺA vivid example is the case of triple champion of Taekwondo Darya Mastikasheva, who was detained by the Security Service of Ukraine on suspicion of treason, working for Russian intelligence services and illegal handling of weapons. For a few days, she was beaten, tortured and threatened with a demand to incriminate herself and confess that she was involved in the formation of a sabotage group. So far, she has been groundlessly kept in a remand prison,ʺ the source said.

The source added that the water supply situation, which had arisen following the damage of the South-Donbass water pipeline, had no significant progress.

ʺThe process of finding the best way to get to a water pipe breakage location is, in fact, complicated by the conduct of hostilities in that area. It is necessary to develop a mine action programme, without which the employees of “Water of Donbass” public utility company will not be able to get to the place and carry out all required repairs, including the involvement of specialized machinery,ʺ the source pointed out.

According to it, the Subgroup on Economic Issues continued to discuss the problems of the recovery of the mobile network operator Vodafone in the territory of the Republics, as well as the issues related to the payment of pensions and social benefits.

ʺThe Ukrainian side has not updated its application for the repair of fibre-optic communication line, which was damaged on January 11, 2018, in Yelenovka since the last meeting. Our representatives managed to persuade the invited specialists of Vodafone to repair this very line. The plan of joint actions was worked out. The representatives of the Ukrainian delegation assured that they would send an appropriate application in the near future and specialists will begin to undertake repairs after the parties provide security guarantees.

As before, the issue of payment of legal pension and social benefits has remained on the agenda. The representatives of the Republics insisted on the development of a better mechanism, but official Kiev continues to block the option of payment offered by the Republics to the people, who do not have the opportunity to cross the line of contact with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross, by invoking the impossibility to circumvent the so-called temporary migrant status in this scheme. At the same time, the Ukrainian side does not offer its alternate solutions to resolve this thorny issue.

Similar tactics used on the issue of independent audit of the public utility company “Water of Donbass”. The leadership of Ukraine obstructs it by all possible means, despite the variability of approach on the part of the Republic and the ICRC. Meanwhile, the position of the Republics remains unchanged: a tariff increase is out the question until an independent audit is carries out,ʺ the source said.

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