The latest round of peace talks on Ukraine crisis on Saturday ended in the Belarusian capital of Minsk without an agreement.
Present at the negotiations of the Trilateral Contact Group in the day were former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, representatives of the self-claimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics (DPR and LPR) in eastern Ukraine, the Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, as well as the special delegate of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Heidi Tagliavini.
The Ukrainian side blamed the delegates from the east regions for the failure of yielding any productive outcome of the meeting.
“Today’s consultations under the plan for the implementation of the Minsk agreements have been aborted due to the absence of Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky (leaders of the two self-claimed republics), to ultimatums from their representatives Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego, and to their refusal to discuss the plan of measures for an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of heavy armaments,” Kuchma was cited as saying by the Interfax news agency.
Pushilin, the DPR envoy accused Kiev of showing little respect to others.
“Talks imply a dialogue. But Ukraine is ready to hear only itself and defend its own interests,” he said.
According to him, the militia proposed a truce deal relying on the actual division line which Kiev was against and insisted on using the line agreed on in Sep. 19, 2014.
On September 5, envoys of Ukraine, Russia and the eastern regions in Ukraine signed, under the auspices of the OSCE, the Minsk Protocol which stipulated the immediate cease-fire. Two weeks later, on Sept. 19, the Contact Group inked the Minsk Memorandum calling for pulling back heavy weapons and military equipment, and creating a safety zone of no less than 30 kilometers in width.
While declaring their commitment to the Minsk Protocol, representatives of the eastern rebels said the status of Kiev’s negotiator was insufficient for them to sign a final deal.
Pushilin and Deinego reiterated their stance that leaders of their “republics” will not come to Minsk unless the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko publicly declares a cease-fire and withdraws heavy weapons from the division line.
Kiev’s delegate responded that the Ukrainian side would not accept any preconditions.
The OSCE said in an online statement that the Contact Group prepared a detailed plan for the implementation of the Minsk agreements, but representatives of DPR and LPR were reluctant to discuss the proposal.
“In fact, they were not even prepared to discuss implementation of a cease-fire and withdraw of heavy weapons,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin said it is just too early to evaluate the talks in Minsk on Saturday.
“We need time to evaluate the outcome of the talks. It is premature to make any assessments,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
The date for another round of talks to stop the prolonged conflict was not discussed at the talks, said the DPR envoy.
More than 5,000 people have died since the conflict between Ukrainian government forces and the eastern militia started in May 2014, and over 1.5 million people have been displaced, according to the United Nations.