By Borys Humeniuk
ON SEPTEMBER 5, the Trilateral Contact Group of official delegates of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE met representatives of Russia-backed militants from Donetsk and Luhansk in Minsk and signed a protocol on joint steps aimed at implementation of the Peace Plan of President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. In a follow-up meeting on September 19, the contact group issued a memorandum to facilitate implementation of the protocol.
As of today, Ukraine has implemented all provisions and has undertaken tangible steps to fulfill provisions of the memorandum. At the same time, Russia and pro-Moscow terrorists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine continue mostly neglecting the implementation of the Minsk arrangements.
Without any doubt, a immediate bilateral ceasefire is the core element of the memorandum. Ukraine is doing everything possible to de-escalate the situation and find a peaceful solution. Its forces adhere to the ceasefire regime doing their best to avoid full-scale military actions and using weapons only to defend themselves. Ukrainian military have prepared positions for withdrawal of heavy munitions at least 15km away from the contact line, while Russia-backed mercenaries continue shelling positions of Ukrainian military as well as civilian targets.
Thanks to the Minsk Protocol, approximately 1,000 Ukrainian military and civilians have been released by Russian regular forces and terrorists. Although there is some progress, nearly 500 Ukrainian citizens are still held captive and Russia refuses to release illegally detained Ukrainian political prisoners.
The second core element of the Minsk arrangements is implementation of monitoring and verification of the ceasefire by the OSCE. Ukraine has rendered all necessary assistance for initial deployment and further expansion of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine to ensure proper monitoring and verification of the ceasefire. It is very important to promptly increase the number of monitors in the mission up to 1500.
Establishment of a strict control at the Ukrainian-Russian border to prevent inflow of heavy weaponry, armed vehicles, armament, military equipment and personnel from Russia is critical for achievement of sustainable de-escalation of the situation. Ukraine’s ultimate goal is to return all the checkpoints temporary occupied by the illegal armed groups under control of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. The OSCE should play a critical role in monitoring implementation of the Minsk provisions.
Decentralisation of powers in Ukraine is the next core provision. On September 16, the Ukrainian parliament adopted a law on interim local self-government in certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Under this law, regional authorities received additional budget, taxation, cultural and other powers.
At the same time, Russia intensified its efforts to promote statehood of the self-proclaimed entities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Ukraine is consistently working on promoting an inclusive national dialogue. Respective roundtables were held in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Mykolayiv. To secure due representation of Donbas residents in the national legislative body and, thus, to ensure their active participation in political processes and democratic reforms in Ukraine, it was decided to hold early parliamentary elections on October 26.
The Ukrainian Government estimates that damage to infrastructure in Donbas region amounts to almost $2 billion. To address this situation, the Government of Ukraine has prepared the Plan for Economy Renewal and Growth 2014-2016 and called an international donor conference.
Ukrainian authorities count on comprehensive support of our foreign partners, including the Republic of Cyprus, in the course of reforms. The upcoming donor conference and financial assistance are of utmost importance for our state under current circumstances. In this regard, it remains critical to show solidarity of the world community in the face of Russia’s barbaric behavior.
And, of course, I cannot but mention the tremendous importance of this solidarity. The Ukrainian government and nation deeply appreciate
any assistance to our tireless efforts to restore peace in the country and to start conducting vitally important reforms. In this respect, the friendly, objective and instrumental position of Nicosia towards Kyiv is highly recognised and welcomed.
Borys Humeniuk is Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Cyprus