This is what we would like to say regarding the statement issued by the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine on 18 January.
President Vladimir Putin’s letter was sent to President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko on 15 January this year following a request made by our Ukrainian partners in a telephone conversation between the Russian and Ukrainian leaders. In his message, the Russian President proposed that the heavy weaponry of both the Ukrainian armed forces and the Donbass self-defence forces (the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics) be pulled back from the contact line in accordance with the Minsk agreements and the coordinates on which the Ukrainian side insisted. The message was supplemented with a table on the withdrawal of the sides’ heavy weaponry by date and type of cannon and rocket artillery.
The parametres of this table are similar to the heavy weaponry withdrawal schedule from a working paper of 13 November 2014, on the fulfilment of which the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry insists in its statement of 18 January this year.
Considering the above, we strongly recommend that the Ukrainian side does not substitute professional efforts to deescalate the military situation in southeast Ukraine with foreign policy rhetoric.
If Kiev is really ready to withdraw heavy weaponry alongside the self-defence forces in accordance with the parametres agreed in the Minsk Memorandum of 19 September 2014 and reaffirmed in the working paper of 13 November 2014, it should start taking practical action, all the more so given that the leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics have signed the coordinated schedule. The Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) was established at the request of President Poroshenko jointly with the OSCE Standing Monitoring Mission to Ukraine to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weaponry of the Ukrainian armed forces and of the self-defence forces and to help coordinate technical issues, if need be. To do this, Kiev must approve the requisite authority of its representative at the JCCC.
This goal-oriented approach would help lift the risk of the resumption of hostilities. We are urging the sides to use this window of opportunity to withdraw their lethal weapons from the conflict area and by doing so, to prevent more civilian casualties. This is an absolute priority. The implementation of this step would help strengthen trust and create favourable conditions for the fulfilment of other provisions of the Minsk agreements.