On May 30, Berlin hosted a meeting of Normandy Four deputy foreign ministers to further discuss a resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. State Secretary, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin represented Russia. Coordinators from the Minsk Contact Group and its working subgroups were also invited to attend.
The parties reviewed the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements of February 12, 2015.
The Russian side stressed that there was no alternative to the Minsk Agreements and underscored the counter-productive nature of Kiev’s attempts to shy away from fulfilling them by changing the formats and by involving other organisations in the settlement process. Russia emphasised the leading role of the Contact Group and its working subgroups in advancing a settlement. It supported the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, which is playing an important stabilising role.
All parties noted the importance of unfailingly and comprehensively honouring the ceasefire and withdrawing the weapons systems banned by the Minsk Agreements. Meeting participants regretted another failure to disengage the warring parties’ forces and weapons systems in Stanitsa Luganskaya that was to be completed on May 28, 2017. At the same time, Russia stressed that Kiev’s attempts to link progress on political settlement issues with the situation on the security track were unacceptable. Kiev’s regular appeals to solve the problem by force seem all the more dangerous.
The meeting participants advocated more active efforts to release and exchange all hostages and illegally detained individuals on the basis of the all-for-all principle, as formalised by the Minsk Agreements.
They also discussed the Donbass socioeconomic and humanitarian situation. Russia expressed the need to immediately lift the Kiev-imposed blockade of the region that is leading to the humanitarian disaster. This is particularly critical for water supply issues and social payments to the local people.
The mostly constructive Berlin meeting should facilitate the Minsk Contact Group’s more dynamic work that remains crucial for implementing the February 2015 agreements on resolving the Ukrainian conflict by peaceful means.