Friday, June 14

Interview of the Director of the Second Department of the CIS countries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia A.A.Polishchuk to the news agency MIA “Russia Today”

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Question: Today is the seventh anniversary of the Package of Measures to implement the Minsk Agreements. But their implementation does not seem to have progressed at all. Are the agreements rather alive or dead? Maybe new ones are needed, or at least an adaptation of existing ones?

Answer: A set of measures is the only basis for a settlement. There is no alternative to it. It was signed in the Contact Group by the parties to the conflict Kiev and Donbass, sealed by the OSCE mediators and Russia, approved by the leaders of the Normandy format countries and approved by the UN Security Council. This has made it a part of international law, that is, binding, whether someone likes it or not.

The Minsk agreements put an end to the hot phase of the armed conflict and determined the sequence of steps towards a sustainable peaceful settlement. In February 2015, Donbass agreed to remain part of Ukraine on the terms of a special status and decentralization of the country.

Unfortunately, for seven years Kiev has not fulfilled almost anything of what is provided for by the Package of Measures. Donbass has not been granted a special status. Constitutional reform and decentralization have not been carried out. No amnesty has been announced. Even the “Steinmeier formula”, which, in fact, is a concession of Donbass, Kiev has not incorporated into national legislation. Moreover, he continues shelling, refuses direct dialogue with Donbass, continues the blockade of the region, makes loud statements and adopts laws that contradict the Package of Measures.

This week, an online meeting of the Contact Group and a meeting of advisers to the leaders of the “Norman” countries took place in Berlin. Both – again to no avail. At such meetings, Kiev often behaves like an “enfant terrible”, a spoiled child, trying to distort the provisions written in black and white in the Package of Measures.

Question: In Ukraine, the Minsk agreements are openly criticized. Some of the Kiev politicians say that their implementation will lead to the collapse of the country, someone equates it to treason. Is there even a small hope in such conditions that Kiev will implement these agreements? If not, then why negotiate – both in the Contact Group and in the “Normandy format”?

Answer: The implementation of “Minsk” will not lead to any disintegration of Ukraine. Quite the opposite. Decentralization, embedded in the Package of Measures, is a salvation for Ukraine. The experience of State-building in multinational and multilingual countries shows that federalization, or decentralization, is the key to stability. It is enough to look at the example of countries such as Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and the USA.

As for the negotiations, they certainly need to be continued. Diplomatic methods are always better than military ones. Therefore, we are making every possible mediation effort in the Contact Group and the Normandy Format.

It is not difficult to implement the Minsk agreements. This can be done in a matter of months. Only political will is needed. And we constantly call on Western countries that have influence on Kiev to encourage it to fulfill its obligations. We are raising this issue in international organizations.

Question: Western countries continue to pump Ukraine with weapons, including offensive ones. What consequences can this have for the settlement of the conflict?

Answer: The consequences can be the most devastating. In general, it seems that after Russia demanded security guarantees from the West, NATO countries deliberately fabricated and inflated the myth about the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. They do this in order to force the implementation of plans for the military development of its territory. What they had previously planned to do for several years, now they want to complete in months.

Pumping Ukraine with weapons is happening at an incredibly fast pace. Westerners are racing to supply Kiev with weapons, send military advisers and instructors. In December, the United States provided additional military assistance to Ukraine in the amount of $ 200 million. In total, since 2014, according to the statements of the State Department, they have provided $ 2.7 billion in military assistance to Ukraine. They are followed by other NATO members: Great Britain, Canada, Lithuania, Turkey, France. Poland, Estonia, and the Netherlands are ready to join. The European Union plans to deploy a “Military Advisory and Training Mission– – a military advisory and training mission. This year, NATO members will hold nine joint exercises in Ukraine. Last year there were seven of them. Their scale will increase significantly.

Such militarization of Ukraine has a negative impact on the settlement of the conflict in Donbass. The Ukrainian leadership has a feeling that the West is giving it a “carte blanche”, a free hand for its forceful decision. But there is another problem. A lot of weapons go to the black market. According to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, it already amounts to about 5 million units, which can easily end up anywhere, including in the NATO countries themselves.

Question: What can be done to defuse the current tense situation around Ukraine?

Answer: To de-escalate tensions, it is necessary, first of all, to force Kiev to implement a set of measures. It is necessary that NATO countries stop supplying weapons to Ukraine, withdraw military advisers and instructors, abandon any joint exercises in Ukraine and withdraw all previously supplied weapons from its territory.

Finally, NATO should refuse to accept Ukraine into its ranks. In turn, Kiev should return to a neutral, non-aligned status, which was enshrined in the Declaration on State Sovereignty of Ukraine in 1990. The need to implement this Declaration in 1991 was fixed in the Act of Proclamation of Independence of Ukraine, and the current Constitution of the country of 1996 contains a provision that when it was adopted, the Verkhovna Rada was guided by the said Act.

We think that this fully meets the interests of Ukraine itself and its citizens and will contribute to strengthening regional and pan-European security and stability.



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