On February 14, in Minsk, the regular meeting of the Contact Group on the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbass was held. During the meeting, the negotiators paid special attention to issues of compliance with the ceasefire regime, the implementation of agreements on the withdrawal of prohibited weapons and the disengagement of forces, as well as the exchange of prisoners.
As a source at the peace talks reports from Minsk, the issue of prisoners’ return remains “the most burning” at all meetings of the Contact Group.
“Negotiators from the Donetsk People’s Republic still adhere to the exchange of all confirmed to all confirmed regardless of how serious their crimes are.
Significant results in discussing the process of exchanging prisoners during today’s meeting have not been achieved. The work on updating the lists continues,” the source said.
He added that, in spite of the current truce, both representatives of the JCCC in the DPR and the OSCE SMM record violations of the ceasefire regime on a daily basis.
“Even today, on the day of negotiations of the Contact Group in Minsk, the DPR territory was again shelled by the AFU, two Dokuchayevsk schools were under fire. By a fluke, the children and the school staff were not harmed,” the source said.
At the same time, according to him, the Donetsk People’s Republic strictly adheres to its obligations.
“As Denis Pushilin noted, the corresponding orders to the DPR units were given and published, there is no advancing, the investigation of violations, as well as the application of disciplinary measures to violators, are held regularly. At the same time there is no mirror action from the Ukrainian party until now.
Moreover, the Donetsk People’s Republic has conducted an investigation of the incident with the bombing of an UAV and a OSCE SMM patrol on February 2, 2018. According to the information provided by the JCCC in the DPR, the shelling in both cases was conducted by the armed forces of Ukraine. The Donetsk People’s Republic has repeatedly stressed its intention to provide full assistance to create safe conditions for the Mission to carry out its activities. The disengagement of forces and facilities could significantly reduce the incandescence on the contact line, but the parties fail to withdraw weapons in Stanitsa Luganskaya for a year and a half. During the elapsed time, 16 periods of “silence” were recorded, which allowed disengagement. And only the far-fetched reasons and the frank sabotage of the Ukrainian party did not allow this. Another attempt to disengage the forces and facilities in Stanitsa Luganskaya, according to the Republics, could occur on February 16. But taking into account the position of Ukraine, the negotiators do not cherish a special belief in the implementation of this attempt,” the source said.
The negotiators expressed serious concern over the significant increase in the use of armaments banned by the Minsk agreements. “According to the OSCE SMM, this number has grown 10-fold,” the source said.
In the course of the meeting, plenipotentiary of the DPR Denis Pushilin paid special attention to accentuating the reinforcement of military preparations by the Ukrainian side along the entire contact line.
“According to him (Denis Pushilin – ed.), DPR reconnaissance daily records information about the columns of combat and transport equipment carrying servicemen, ammunition and fuel to the contact line. He also noted the enhancing by the Ukrainian security forces of aerial reconnaissance of the Armed Forces’ positions and vital infrastructure of Republics’ settlements. These facts, according to the envoy, speak of the planned Ukrainian armed forces aggression. In this regard, Denis Pushilin addressed the OSCE SMM as a representative of the world community with a request to call on the official Kiev to recall the commitments undertaken in accordance with the Minsk agreements and prevent escalation of the conflict,” the source emphasised.
Despite all the efforts of the negotiators in the working group on economic issues, the situation with the restoration of social and economic ties remains extremely complex and controversial.
“The Ukrainian side still refuses to discuss issues of abolishing the status of IDPs as a mandatory condition for the receipt by residents of the Donbass of a pension, the organization of payments by the Ukrainian party of wage arrears to employees of the railway, the restoration of the banking sector.
At the same time, Ukraine is ready to discuss issues related to ensuring the operation of its enterprises located near the line of contact. This is especially true for flooded coal mines located on the territory of Ukraine. By the way, this issue remains the only issue in the sphere of environmental safety, which the Ukrainian side is ready to work on. The Republic, in turn, is ready to discuss the entire spectrum of environmental problems on both sides of the conflict. Only the proposals to hold joint activities in the sphere of ensuring environmental safety of support from Ukraine have not been received,” the source concluded.