Denis Pushilin: We need to search for new methods, mechanisms to make Ukraine think about real cease-fire regime
The Chairman of the DPR People’s Council, the Permanent Plenipotentiary Representative of the DPR in the Contact Group’s negotiations in Minsk Denis Pushilin reported in an interview to RIA Novosti that the DPR was ready to symmetrical response to the AFU’s advance in the “grey zone”.
– The situation in Donbass exacerbated in May, there were attempts by the AFU to advance deep into the “grey zone” and the territory of the DPR. What is the reason for this?
– There are a couple of reasons for that. The first and main one, which allowed the Ukrainian government to think that it would be perceived by Western partners, is the Football World Cup in Russia. Everything that would prevent fans to come, would hinder Russia, and Ukraine is ready to contribute to this.
The second reason is that the Americans keep training the Armed Forces of Ukraine, troop exercises took place and the AFU has new radios. And the President (of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko) is testing Javelins. There is a sense of confidence that they may get on an offensive, to take part of the territory by force. I am not saying that this is the zero hour, when they decided to take the entire territory of the DPR and LPR by force, but they definitely did count on taking some part. We had to remind once again that we had a full-fledged army. We are well aware of what to expect from Ukraine, its politicum and semi-controlled national battalions. Therefore we are improving as well. Everything that happened in the past could be considered a good lesson for Ukraine, but the fact that the AFU is at war with civilian population, but not with our soldiers, casts a dark shadow over the situation.
– Can we talk about the stabilization of the situation in Donbass now?
– Unfortunately, it is too early to talk about stabilization. To my mind, we have to enhance preparedness up to the end of the World Cup. The deterioration (of the situation by the AFU – Ed.) is highly possible, we are dealing with Ukraine.
– Is there any chance for large-scale offensive, army actions by the AFU?
– Ukraine, most likely, will not dare to do something serious after trying to advance in certain areas and suffering defeat. This is my opinion, I am not a military man. This is my opinion, which is based on the assessment of political events, I might be wrong.
– The AFU is building new fortifications near Petrovskoye, where the withdrawal of forces and means took place. What does this tell us?
– Such actions by Ukraine violate all previously reached agreements. In fact, the framework decision on the separation of forces and means in pilot areas was reversed. We are not talking about Stanitsa Luganskaya, where Ukraine has been disrupting the separation of forces and means for a quite long period of time, the dates of which are established in Minsk. We are now talking about Petrovskoye and Zolotoye (two sites, where the withdrawal of forces and means took place in autumn 2016 – Ed.). Contrary to the framework decision, Ukraine has begun to build fortifications within these sites. This is evidenced by the reports of the OSCE SMM.
– What would this entail?
– Ukraine is doing everything to sabotage the separation of forces and means in the pilot sites, thus avoiding further withdrawal of forces and means along the entire line of contact. Because it would guarantee truce. This would show that the conflict was translated into political level, when only political arguments remained. It would be right, the people of the DPR and LPR and, probably, Minsk Agreements guarantors are waiting for this. But the escalation of the situation on the line of contact is more viable option for Ukraine now. This is due to the upcoming elections in Ukraine. The election campaign has already begun and Poroshenko is trying different variants: both the President-Peacemaker and the President-Daredevil. Given the nationalist sentiments in Ukrainian society, he seems to be inclined again to believe that it is necessary to be a militant president. Accordingly, he needs a “hot” phase on the line of contact. It is all coming up. Besides, Poroshenko has a desire to reintroduce Ukraine on the agenda. No one talked about Ukraine during last, significant meetings in the world politicum. The “hot” phase on the line of contact allows Poroshenko to remind about himself. It gives an opportunity to count on some financial support, without which Ukraine cannot live.
– Will the DPR takes symmetrical measures in response to the fortification of the AFU in the area of separation near Petrovskoye?
– If Ukraine does not change its positions within the shortest possible time, if the Minsk Agreements guarantors, that very part of them that affects Ukraine the most, do not take a more proactive role, then we will have to return our units to their previous positions. Everything is ready for symmetrical actions.
– The Donetsk water filtration plant remains to be under shelling. What are the ways to reduce tensions in this area? Will Kiev agree to them?
– More than half a million people are dependent on the Donetsk water filtration plant. The OSCE SMM proposed a number of measures in order to ensure its smooth functioning. In particular, it is proposed to introduce a full ceasefire regime in the area, a ban on retaliation fire, as well as a ban on shelling and other attacks on the plant, the withdrawal of heavy weapons in accordance with the Minsk agreements. In addition, it is proposed to carry out the separation of forces and means, mine disarming of the area and access roads near the Donetsk water filtration plant. As well as to provide necessary security guarantees to ensure safe, secure and unrestricted access for employees, maintenance crews and SMM members to the plant. But, I think, Kiev will do everything not to participate in such acts. It is very good that the OSCE SMM sees the complexity and importance of the problems connected with the Donetsk water filtration plant and the measures proposed by the OSCE SMM are practically acceptable. The OSCE’s active position will allow putting pressure on Kiev, there is hope.
– Will you initiate cease-fire regime if the situation in Donbass aggravates again?
– Truce was declared about 20 times during the conflict. In my opinion, it does make sense to call for a truce because of such a large number of them. It has no effect on Ukraine. We need to look for new ways methods and mechanisms to make Ukraine think about real cease-fire regime. Unfortunately, the last truces have exhausted themselves. Yes, they used to reduce the intensity of shelling, but the situation was reversed and shelling by Ukraine continued right after truce announcement.
– Heavy armaments have been returned to the line of contact, the agreement on the withdrawal of forces has actually been thwarted and there is no movement in the political settlement. Are the Minsk agreements able to bring peace to Donbass or have they exhausted themselves?
– Ukraine is doing everything possible to suspend the Minsk agreements, make them remain on paper, so that nothing is done. Our goal is to change the situation. We need a more proactive stance both of the OSCE SMM and guarantor states to do this. I believe that only the Minsk Agreements can resolve the conflict peacefully. All other options, which Ukraine considers to be the most suitable – and this is a military way, an attempt to involve peacemakers in order to assist the cleanse of Donbass, are incomplete and have no chance to be realized.
– What needs to be done to make peace come to Donbass?
– To implement the agreements reached so far. In particular, the framework decision is the withdrawal of forces and means not only in the pilot areas, but also along the entire line of contact. This will ensure that it will be possible to stop the active phase of hostilities. Then there is a political part. And the most correct option is to synchronize the execution of security elements with elements of a political settlement. Turn-based synchronization. There are such offers. But, unfortunately, they are rejected by Ukraine.