Kiev and Donbass to agree on disengagement of forces

October 15, 2019

The disengagement of forces at Petrovskoye and Zolotoye concurred on two weeks ago could be carried out later this week or at the beginning of next week, said Izvestia’s sources close to the talks in the Belarusian capital of Minsk.

According to one of them, the parties will reaffirm their readiness to start the much-awaited process along the line of engagement on October 15. While the Donbass republics honored their commitments regarding the beginning of the disengagement, the Ukrainian armed forces failed to follow suit. This is largely due to the stance of nationalists and the so-called volunteer battalions of extremists that do not obey orders from the official authorities in Kiev and proclaim they are determined to “defend Ukraine.”

The second attempt to disengage forces is expected to be a success, because the next Normandy Four summit, which Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky needs so much, depends on that, another source explained to the paper. The issue at hand at the Minsk talks will be not just some formal coordination, but genuine actions by Kiev, envoy of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) to the Contact Group’s political subgroup Rodion Miroshnik stressed to Izvestia. In his view, the reason behind the derailment of the disengagement process is the complex political situation plaguing Ukraine. “We suspect that Ukraine is deliberately failing to fulfill its obligations. When there is a need to stop the bombardments, for example, near Stanitsa Luganskaya, Kiev does that. There are domestic reasons for that, including the lack of the leadership’s influence on the law enforcement agencies. Ukraine has to clarify the situation and comply with its obligations to us and international agencies, the guarantors of the agreements,” he stressed.

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According to political commentator Denis Denisov, President Zelensky of Ukraine has both the desire and political will to make progress on the issue. However, there are quite a few factors, which prevent him from doing so. “The problem is that Zelensky and his entourage fear the radical nationalists very much and are so far unprepared to act in earnest as far as the volunteer battalions are concerned,” the expert noted.

As for the Steinmeier formula, the impression is that Kiev has not yet fully shaped its stance on resolving the crisis, he went on to say. “The Ukrainian partners show the desire and, partially, even the ability to move along the political track. It seems, however, that they first make decisions and only then read documents. Moreover, those in Kiev who are involved in the efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis are very poorly prepared. Therefore, it is necessary to wait until they formulate their stance. That will pave the way for the political track at the talks,” he noted.

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