On May 16, a regular meeting of the Contact Group on the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbass took place in Minsk. The agenda included issues related to the observance of cease-fire regime, withdrawal of forces and means, preparation of the next phase of prisoner exchange, discussion on mechanisms of the payment of pensions, implementation of “Steinmeier Formula”, as well as the discussion on environmental situation in Donbass.
According to a source at the peace talks in the capital of Belarus, the negotiators of the Republic offered to exchange prisoners agreed by both parties during the meeting.
ʺThe representatives of the DPR and LPR came forward with proposal to exchange all identified persons, who are detained in detention facilities in the Ukrainian territory, on all identified persons, who are detained in places of detention in the territory of the Republics. According to the presented offer, 157 people will return to the LDPR territory, in turn, the Republic will return 20 prisoners to Ukraine,ʺ a source said.
According to its information, the discussion of proposals, received from the representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, on the mechanisms of the payment of pensions was thwarted by the Ukrainian side
ʺIn fact, Ukraine has blocked negotiations on the payment of pensions to the citizens of Donbass through the mechanism proposed by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The Ukrainian side has not presented its position since the ICRC representatives made its proposal on making social payments. Ukraine did not take a stand for or against and it did not make its own proposals. The Ukrainian side just does not have position on this matter. In the meantime, according to “Reintegration” law adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament, zoning is introduced in the territory of Ukraine that complicates already difficult access of hundreds of thousands of pensioners to their pensions,ʺ a source said.
It also noted that the representatives of the DPR had proposed a road map of measures for servicing “Vodafone” mobile network operator. ʺThe DPR has issued a draft road map of measures for servicing “Vodafone” mobile network operator in the territory of the DPR. The proposal includes a complete set of necessary actions in order to make the mobile network operator functional in the territory of the LDPR, ranging from defining the legal status of technical personnel, which provide maintenance to “Vodafone” telecommunication equipment in the territory of the Republics, to harmonizing the list of contracting organizations, the development of schedules and timetables for maintenance, as well as the development of mechanism for the payment of electricity bills.
We have not received the response of the Ukrainian side concerning the draft road map of the DPR yet, as well as the proposal of Ukraine,ʺ a source said.
According to the Permanent Plenipotentiary Representative of the DPR in the Contact Group’s negotiations Denis Pushilin, the environmental situation in the Republics is supervised by the specialists of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, who carry out monitoring of hazardous industrial facilities on an ongoing basis, take soil, water and air samples, control a level of mine flooding.
ʺThere is no threat of ecological catastrophe in the territory of the Republics. However, a number of dangerous installations, which are located in the Ukrainian territory, have been a cause of serious concern of our specialists. The list of these facilities and threats were repeatedly provided by the LDPR negotiators at meetings in Minsk. An accident at any of these facilities will result in a full-blown environmental catastrophe and a large number of civilian casualties on both sides of the line of contact.
A round table entitled “Environmental risks arising from the objects located in the territory of Ukraine” took place in Lugansk the other day in order to discuss potential threat posed by facilities with increased danger that are controlled by Ukraine and where subject matter experts expressed willingness to carry out the monitoring of environmental situation and give an adequate assessment of their safety level. Today, the representatives of the Republics once again made a proposal to conduct joint inspections of the facilities with increased danger for the timely identification and elimination of problematic issues,ʺ the Permanent Plenipotentiary Representative said.
Besides that, a source said that the representatives of the LDPR proposed a number of consecutive steps to resolve safety issues due to the lack of accountability mechanism for the violations of the cease-fire regime on the part of Ukraine.
ʺThe Ukrainian Armed Forces’ advance in the Petrovskoye and Zolotoye areas (!), building of fortifications and deployment of military equipment in this area, another failure to withdraw forces and means at the third pilot area Stanitsa Luganskaya, the shelling of the Donetsk water filtration plant and growing number of cease-fire violations these are the result of the lack of accountability mechanisms. Not a single Ukrainian official, commander or soldier has been held accountable for even clearly documented violations by the Ukrainian side in the OSCE SMM reports. Moreover, the Ukrainian side allows itself to deny the presence of such violations in the reports of the SMM and accuses us of aggravating the situation concerning the Donetsk water filtration plant.
Using the unduly tactful behavior of the OSCE SMM, the Ukrainian side has mitigated the earlier agreements on the withdrawal of heavy weapons and separation of forces and means, discrediting even the slightest initiatives to achieve truce.
The first steps towards stabilization of the situation should be the development of mechanisms to investigate situation, define and punish those responsible, straightening of the front line at the Petrovskoye and Zolotoye areas, ensuring of the long-awaited withdrawal of forces and means and then armed units of the parties should be pulled back from the Donetsk water filtration plant.
Only consistent implementation of all the agreements reached can lead to positive results in the settlement of the situation on the line of contact. The only downside is that the agreements should be carried out by both sides of the conflict, but we are not expecting any kind of negotiability and responsibility from Ukraine,ʺ a source summed up.