On December 8, the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation hosted an extended meeting of the Committee for Public Support of the Southeast of Ukraine. The event was devoted to discussing the issues of providing humanitarian assistance to the people of the Donbass, as well as further development of interregional cooperation with public organizations of the DPR and the LPR.
The Permanent Representative of the DPR to the Contact Group in Minsk, the Chairman of the People’s Council of the DPR Denis Pushilin, the Deputy Minister of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters Vladlen Aksyonov, the Authorized Representative of the LPR for the negotiations of the Contact Group in Minsk, the Acting Foreign Minister of the LPR Vladislav Deynego, the Acting Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the LPR Alexander Drobot, representatives of public organizations, as well as political scientists and media representatives, were invited to the meeting.
The Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, Yury Vorobiyov, who presided at the meeting, made a report on the results of the work of the Committee for Public Support of the Southeast of Ukraine and also shared further plans for cooperation with DPR and LPR public organizations.
“Today we are holding the final meeting of the Committee of Public Support of the Southeast of Ukraine. I remind you that on September 28, we met in the framework of a round table devoted to the expiry of the law of Ukraine on the special status of the Donbass.
Our meeting today is taking place at a very difficult moment. On the one hand, thanks to the Minsk agreements, the situation in the South-East of Ukraine has stabilized: the flow of refugees has ceased, the temporary accommodation sites have closed. On the other hand, the unstable political situation in Kiev, intensified recently due to the activities of Ukrainian radicals, nationalists, sabotage groups, especially in the territory of the LPR, cannot but cause fears and resembles the events of 2014. We are also concerned about the situation of the exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and the Donbass, as well as the situation with the decision of the US Congress to allocate considerable funds for the acquisition of modern lethal weapons by Ukraine.
Thus, contrary to the Package of Measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which require an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in the Donbass, shelling of settlements continues, the Ukrainian Armed Forces seize settlements in the so-called “grey zone”, civilians keep dying.
Our committee is also interested in the implementation of the Minsk agreements and closely monitors the progress of their implementation. We held four committee meetings this year, which addressed issues of the social and political situation in the South-East of Ukraine, the development of public interregional cooperation between the regions of Russia and the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, the work of the Ministry of Emergency Measures on providing humanitarian assistance to the inhabitants of the Donbass, the situation with the draft law on the state language, implying the obligatory use of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of state and public life in the context of human rights violations Ukraine, and other issues. In addition, two round tables on the topics “Donbass and Russia: New cooperation mechanisms” and “The last frontier: what will happen in connection with the completion of the law of Ukraine on the special status of the Donbass have been held this year on October 18.
This year, when the migration process has stabilized and is not so acute, we were able to shift the focus of our activities to the sphere of humanitarian projects and in-depth cooperation in this field.
The coming year poses new challenges for us. We will continue participating in solving social and humanitarian problems of the South-East of Ukraine. It is also planned to hold conferences on the cultural space of Russia and the Donbass during the spring session of 2018 under the auspices of the Federation Council.
The Committee continues being a platform for a close and trustworthy exchange of views between representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and the Russian public. I believe that it is very important that there is such a platform where our colleagues can speak in the presence of the media and Russian senators about the problems of the Republics, which must be solved jointly with the representatives of the Russian Federation,” Yury Vorobyov said.
In turn, Denis Pushilin told about the situation in the Donbass, how it affects the lives of citizens of the Donetsk People’s Republic, as well as the progress of the negotiation process in Minsk.
“The regularity of meetings in Minsk remains stable. The non-constructive position of our Ukrainian opponents also remains stable. Of course, the Minsk agreements are more beneficial for the Republics, rather than for Ukraine, which it undoubtedly realizes. In addition, its condition is aggravated by an unstable internal political situation with yet another attempt of coups, destabilization, and the like. But this is not surprising after the coup in 2014.
As part of the negotiation process, the Ukrainian negotiators lack a clear position. Moreover, they constantly try to step aside and tighten the solution of absolutely all issues as much as possible, even the simplest ones, on which the results could have been ready in 2015, when the Package of Measures was signed.
We cannot turn a blind eye to this behaviour, as this affects the situation along the line of contact. At present, this results in shelling of settlements located there. This in turn leads to the destruction of infrastructure, the destruction of houses and, worst of all, to the wounds and death of civilians.
This happens despite regular agreements with the Ukrainian party on various armistices. In the summer there was a “harvest truce”, now there is a “school” one, at the end of the year there will most likely be a “New Year” one, timed for the New Year and Christmas holidays. However, this does not mean that in these periods the shelling completely stops. Alas, no. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that when Ukraine attempts to occupy settlements in the “grey zone”, it sacrifices not only our citizens, whom they no longer consider to be their own, but also their own servicemen. So, recently there took place the seizure of settlements of Gladosovo and Travnevoye in the neutral territory.
Obviously, this has a negative impact on the overall atmosphere in the framework of the Minsk talks. Ukraine is found to be in breach of agreements not only achieved in Minsk, but also within the “Normandy format”, as well as personal promises of President Poroshenko. This concerns the obligations assumed for the publication of a ceasefire order in connection with the “school truce” and an order for disciplinary measures applied against persons who violate the truce.
As for the People’s Republics, we have fulfilled this promise without delay. Orders have been published, special services have been created that identify violators and apply appropriate penalties. Ukraine, on the contrary, to this day, refuses to publish these documents for various far-fetched reasons. In doing so, they simply state that these orders are there. This information is not confirmed. We don’t take Ukraine’s words for granted for a long time, and this is fully justified. Even if these orders exist, we do not know if they are brought to the Ukrainian military. Naturally, the publication of these orders would allow, if not completely cease fire, but significantly reduce their provocative component. Nevertheless, this never happens.
Separately, I would like to dwell on the subject of the prisoners’ exchange. This is an important issue, and I believe that without Medvedchuk’s initiative, which was answered by the President of the Russian Federation, Putin, the situation would still remain unresolved. Negotiations were conducted, the lists were discussed regularly, but they did not lead to concrete actions. At present, we have a great hope that before the New Year holidays the exchange of prisoners will take place.
It should be borne in mind that it will not be final – it is not an exchange of “all for all”. Ukraine continues to detain more and more people, and a number of new political prisoners have appeared since the Medvedchuk’s announced initiative. Naturally, they do not fall under the current exchange. Therefore, we will be able to talk about the full implementation of this paragraph only after the comprehensive implementation of the Minsk agreements, when the conflict is resolved and, most importantly, is resolved politically.
Alas, as a participant in the negotiation process, I do not see such prospects in the foreseeable future. As before, I can only note the lack of fulfillment of at least one paragraph of the Package of Measures. By now, the Minsk Agreements have fulfilled their basic function: they stopped full-fledged military operations. The current situation in the Republics cannot be compared with what happened in 2014, when there was a huge flow of refugees trying to save their lives. But this does not mean that it is necessary to abandon attempts to find ways to exert pressure on Ukraine in terms of its implementation of the Minsk agreements,” Denis Pushilin stressed.
Also, reports of representatives of the Russian Federation regions on the further development of public interregional cooperation with public organizations of the DPR and the LPR were heard during the meeting.