Ukraine cornered again: Minsk group meets in Berlin to discuss Donbass elections

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May 11, 2016 – 

Olga Kozachenko, PolitNavigator – 

Translated by J. Arnoldski 

Today Berlin will host the foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine for a meeting which will consider the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. This is reported by Kommersant, which has recalled how the press-secretary of the president of Russia, Dmitry Peskov, said the other day that the situation with the realization of the Minsk Agreements is “deplorable.” 

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Nonetheless, despite Kiev’s calls to postpone the vote until a complete ceasefire, the Russian foreign ministry believes that a breakthrough is possible which will mean the holding of elections in Donbass under Ukrainian law as early as in June-July. The publication points out that Moscow, as revealed by Russian Deputy Foreign Ministry Grigory Karasin, has prepared a “full set of proposals” which the diplomat is not ready to disclose in detail. 

In turn, the Ukrainian side has stated that Kiev is planning to raise the issue of returning the murderer from Aidar battalion, Nadezhda Savchenko, at the meeting in Berlin. 

“However, in Moscow’s opinion, the main topic of the negotiations should be holding local elections on the territories of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics (DPR and LPR,”  Kommersant states. The elections should be held according to Ukrainian law and monitored by international observers. Karasin stated that “Elections could be held in July, or even June.” He also confirmed plans to hold elections in the first half of 2016. This idea was initially expressed by the ministry of foreign affairs of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and was supported by Russia’s envoy to the Minsk contact group, Boris Gryzlov. At the last meeting on March 3rd, the heads of the Russian, German, and French foreign ministries tried to assign a concrete date for elections, but Ukraine refused. The law governing the holding of elections on the territories of the DPR and LPR has still failed to be adopted by the Ukrainian parliament. Meanwhile, elections in the people’s republics are scheduled for June 24th.” 

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has stated that the “Minsk process cannot continue indefinitely” and has stressed the necessity of holding elections. 

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