MOSCOW, TASS/. Wednesday’s meeting of the Contact Group of OSCE, Russian, Ukrainian and Donetsk and Luhansk envoys is proceeding against the background of a situation in Donbas that Russian experts have described as “brinkmanship fraught with the resumption of full-scale hostilities.” The tensions in the region may turn from bad to worse in the near future. On Monday, the self-proclaimed Donetsk republic’s defense ministry said the Kiev forces had violated the ceasefire 70 times over the previous 24 hours. The republic suspects that this is part of preparations for the resumption of full-scale [illegal] combat operations.
Kiev’s military activity ahead of the Contact Group’s meeting is a clear sign of the wish to disrupt the Minsk Accords, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. He believes that “any attempts by Kiev to resume [illegal] combat operations would be a colossal, tragic mistake.”
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Lavrov reproached the European Union for addressing demands for compliance with the Minsk Accords only to Moscow, at the same time keeping quiet about Kiev’s implementation of the very same agreements.
“It looks like somebody inside the European Union would like the EU to let Kiev backtrack on the Minsk Accords. I would not like to see this is really so.”
The chief of a chair at the presidential academy RANEPA, Vladimir Shtol, is certain that the general trend is towards aggravation, and all this is timed for ceremonies on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the allied victory over Nazi Germany.
“I believe that preparations for such an action have been long underway,” Shtol told TASS. “The ceasefire is very fragile and is violated now and then.” The Minsk Accords, he remarked, must be complied with by all parties, and comprehensively. “Then it would be very hard to shift the process into reverse,” he said.
As far as the European Union’s stance is concerned, Shtol said that Paris and Berlin as guarantors of the Minsk Accords have in fact stayed idle.
“Had they really wanted the EU to take a common stance on the Ukrainian settlement, achieving that would be no problem for them. A number of countries, such as Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Greece and many others would eagerly support any step to ease the EU’s stance over Ukraine. If Merkel and Hollande really wanted to put Kiev’s actions under control, they would be able to achieve that quite easily.”
In many respects the Minsk Accords are not to Kiev’s liking. Hence the calls for moving in EU peacekeepers and the refusal to accept the Minsk-2 format, senior research fellow at the Strategies and Technologies Analysis Centre, Vasily Kashin.
“Ukraine would like to make everybody think the Accords are ineffective and should be revised. This explains the flare-up of hostilities. But that does not mean that full-scale war is round the corner. We are well aware that in the EU there are forces Lavrov pointed to – apparently, some East European countries, including Poland. But we can also see that Germany and France have begun to gradually step up pressures on Ukraine.”
Ukraine, Kashin said, is under pressure from several centres and each is determined to gain the upper hand. Moreover, the international political contradictions in the country are getting more acute.
“The possibility of further progress towards a settlement is great, but the risk of a resumption of full-scale fighting is serious, too,” Kashin believes.
Whatever the case, the Minsk-2 format was enshrined in the UN Security Council’s resolution, so it cannot be brushed aside. Russia will not agree to this,” he said with certainty.
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