On 27 March, a new round of negotiations of the Humanitarian Subgroup of the Contact group on peaceful settlement in Donbass took place in Minsk. Despite the highlight declarations of the Ukrainian side in media ahead of the Minsk talks, the authorized representatives of Ukraine were absent. Instead, Kiev delegated temporarily-appointed experts, who have no decision-making power. They only read out previously prepared statements.
During the first half of the meeting, the Ukrainian side tried to raise the issue of release of the Russian citizens, who are in the territory of Ukraine, under the formula “25 for 25” in the format Ukraine – the Russian Federation – OSCE. On our part, we strongly criticized the attempts of Ukrainian representatives to force the issues that are beyond the Minsk format. The Minsk agreements are focused on the exchange of persons detained by the parties to the conflict.
The Coordinator of the Humanitarian Subgroup Mr. Tony Frisch called on the parties not to derive from the format that we have been using for four years and that has proven fruitful.
The Ukrainian side still has not provided any response to multiple requests from the Donetsk People’s Republic on the “all for all” exchange formula elaborated at the Minsk talks. This testifies to an intentional manipulation and delaying of the second stage of the prisoner exchange.
The destructive position of the official Kiev, whose authorized representatives systematically ignore the meetings of the Humanitarian Subgroup, literally blocks the negotiation process. This prevents us from resolving important issues that are critical for the peaceful settlement in Donbass.