|Participants of the Minsk meeting|
(Image: Kyiv Post)
Amid the ongoing battles in the Eastern Ukrainian Donbas region and continuous violations of Ukrainian border by the Russian military and military technique the first round of talks in Minsk, Belarus, was held on 28 August. The meeting was held in the format “Ukraine – Russia – EU – Eurasian Union” and is supposed to help to find the ways and possibilities to resolve the deepening crisis in Eastern Ukraine.
The Minsk meeting was attended by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Presidents of the countries-members of the Custom Union, Belarusian Aleksandr Lukashenko and Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev and were observed also by three EU commissioners, including Catherine Ashton.
The talks were “difficult”, according to the statement of the Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, but that was a good beginning and the chance to find a peaceful solution of the crisis in Ukraine. It’s worth mentioning also that Belarus, which is traditionally pro-Russian, distanced itself in the Ukrainian issue and voiced its support of Ukrainian territorial integrity, sovereignty and didn’t support the idea of federalization.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called on the world leaders to support Ukraine and Donbas region as this is not only about the future of Ukraine and Donbas but also about the future of the European countries and the entire world. Mr. Poroshenko also stated that Ukraine is a sovereign and independent state which is free to chose its path and direction of development and called on the Western countries, on Kazakhstan and Belarus to support Ukraine and to assist it in establishing the effective system of control on the borders with Russia in order to restore order and security in the region and to stop the continuous weapons and mercenaries’ supplies and to end the bloodshed in Eastern regions of Ukraine.
Ukrainian President called on Russian leader Mr. Putin as well to support the peaceful plan and to cooperate and stated that “all the interested sides are willing to resolve the current crisis and to save face”. “I am ready to discuss the strategies of resolving this crisis,” added Ukrainian President. He also informed the participants of the meeting and the representatives of EU about the deterioration of the situation in Eastern Ukraine.
He also demanded to stop sending mercenaries, weapons and military technique to Ukraine, to withdraw the current troops of the fighters and to cooperate in restoring peace. Ukraine demands also release of all the prisoners, including a female pilot Nadia Savchenko, who is being held captive in Russian prison.
|Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President|
Vladimir Putin in Minsk
(Image: Kyiv Post)
Petro Poroshenko presented also his peace plan during his speech on the Minsk meeting and called the sides to support this plan. “I am confident that this plan is at the current stage the only one possible way and instrument to stop the bloodshed and to ensure the post-conflict rebuilding of Donbas region. Considering this fact I am calling on all the participants of today’s meeting to accept and to support this plan,” stated Mr. Poroshenko on Tuesday in Misnk.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in his turn mentioned the Eastern Ukrainian war only shortly and at the end of his long speech declared in Minsk. Instead of it Russian President concentrated on economical issues and on the threats that Russian economy could possibly have if Ukraine will ratify Association Agreement with EU and will continue to deepen its relations and cooperation with the European states. Mr. Putin stated that Russia is interested in cooperation with Ukraine, but if Ukraine will continue its European path, Russia and the countries of Custom Union will be forced to implement special economic measures against Ukraine, such as cancelling the trade preferences in the Custom Union etc. Mr. Putin declared also that Ukrainian cooperation with EU and Association will result in serious economic losses not only for Russia, but for Belarus and Kazakhstan as well. Though neither Mr. Lukashenko nor Mr. Nazarbayev supported this stance. Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev even stated that Kazakhstan won’t suffer from Ukrainian Association with EU and called on the peaceful talks in order to stop the bloodshed in Eastern Ukraine and to restore peace.
President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko, who hosted the talks, stated also that there is a project of a joint document to be released after the talks in Minsk.
Meanwhile the talks are ongoing and their next round is expected to be held on Wednesday and Thursday. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a private meeting late on Tuesday, but it brought no significant results, and the negotiations are ongoing.