Donbas being economically and politically suffocated – Lavrov
TASS – Donbas is being economically and socially suffocated simultaneously with being militarily suppressed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.
“The Minsk agreements say it is necessary to restore economic ties between Donbas and the rest of Ukraine. Instead of this, we witness that Donbas is being cut from the hryvnia zone, and control regime is being established on the roads from Donbas to other parts of the country,” he added.
“In such conditions, for self-defense forces to surrender its border with Russia means to refuse Russian humanitarian aid, to allow [the Ukrainian forces] to surround them. The actions probably should be consistent. It is necessary, at first, to establish the truce, withdraw heavy weaponry, launch a political process, including on the issue of municipal elections in every town in the south-east of Ukraine in coordination with Kiev, on the issue of political process in a much broader sense, like it was outlined in the Geneva statement and Minsk agreements,” Lavrov said.
“Among urgent issues are restoring economic relations between the territories on both sides of the disengagement line, renewing [social] payments, banking services, returning to the hryvnia zone,” he added. “When all this is done, the issue of borders will be solved a lot easier,” Lavrov said.
The agreement on the monitoring of the border sections controlled by the militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) should be made with Donetsk and Luhansk representatives, Russian foreign minister went on to say.
“I cannot imagine that Luhansk and Donetsk representatives would agree to make the border control issue the main point of the agreements and a precondition for all the rest. However, we see that such an attempt has been made by the Ukrainian government representatives,” he said.
Progress achieved in preparations for Minsk summit
Certain progress has been achieved in preparations for the Normandy Summit (of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France) in Minsk, Sergey Lavrov admitted.
“The Russian president will take part in today’s meeting,” Lavrov confirmed. “From the very moment the idea began to be worked on we have been saying that we would like to hold this summit when there is the understanding it will be prepared and experts have agreed all necessary issues.”
“Of course, the leaders will have a final say,” Lavrov added. “Experts keep working and there has been noticeable progress.”
He avoided getting into the details of the negotiating process.
“I believe it would be not be very appropriate in relation to the summit participants and those who have been making preparations for it,” he explained.
Earlier, the Kremlin’s press-service said Russian President Vladimir Putin was going to Minsk on a visit for Normandy Format talks.
The other negotiators (leaders of Germany, France and Ukraine) have confirmed their participation in the forthcoming meeting.