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Russia's chief negotiator: serious progress is possible in implementation of Minsk accords
Serious progress is possible in the implementation of the Minsk agreements on the settlement in eastern Ukraine, Russia's representative in the Contact Group and permanent member of the Russian Security Council Boris Gryzlov said in an interview with the Kommersant daily published on its website on Sunday.
"I have no doubts that now we can make serious progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements. My meetings in Kiev and in Minsk only prove it," he said when asked about the results of his talks with Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko in Kiev and the latest meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk.
He said he did not consider the current situation as a dead end. "There are a lot of ways and breakthrough options. My task is to explain it to the participants in the process," Gryzlov said admitting however that there were forces "interested in keeping the situation in a dead end." "Worse, some are seeking to dodge responsible steps to implement the Minsk agreements and so, they take advantages from pictures the situation as a dead end," he said.
Boris Gryzlov, a permanent member of the Russian Security Council, was appointed Russia's plenipotentiary envoy at the Contact Group on Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 26. The Russian delegation at the talks also includes special representative Azamat Kulmukhametov and envoys to working sub-groups, namely Yaroslav Moskalik in the subgroup on security, Vladimir Stepanov in the subgroup on humanitarian issues, Sergei Nazarov in the subgroup on economy, and Maxim Polyakov in the subgroup on political issues.
The initiative to set up a trilateral contact group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) came in February, 2014 and its first session was held in Kiev early in June that year. The Group's task is to facilitate diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Donbass. Since July 31, 2014, the group's meetings have been held in the Belarusian capital city Minsk.
On February 12, 2015, the Contact Group signed a 13-point Package of Measures to fulfil the September 2014 Minsk agreements. The package was agreed with the leaders of the Normandy Four, namely Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine.
The Package of Measures, known as Minsk-2, envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people's militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk starting from February 15 and subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement. The deal also laid out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.
To spur up the work of the Contact Group, four working subgroups were set up within it on four key aspects of the Minsk agreements, namely on issues of security; on political issues; on issues of prisoner exchange and refuges; and on social, humanitarian and economic aspects.
[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 17Jan16]
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