Russian Foreign Ministry statement on the implementation of the Minsk agreements on a settlement in Ukraine and elections in its southeastern regions
Considering the ultimatum issued by Kiev and some Western capitals that elections not be held in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, it would be logical to remind the following.
In accordance with the Minsk agreements reached in September this year by representatives of the President of Ukraine and the self-defence forces of southeastern Ukraine with the mediation of Russia and the OSCE, these elections can be held between 19 October and 3 November of this year. The argument that the law on a special self-government procedure for these regions, which Petr Poroshenko signed on 16 October, has set 7 December as the election date contradicts the Minsk agreements. This date, 7 December, was added to the law arbitrarily and unilaterally, without consulting the self-defence forces.
Moreover, this law cannot be applied in practice because it does not identify the area it applies to. The issue of identification has been suspended pending an additional decision by the Verkhovna Rada, which cannot be taken because Kiev has withdrawn its signature from the document that set out the disengagement line between the Ukrainian and the self-defence forces. The situation has been further complicated by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s refusal to implement the 16 October law signed by Petr Poroshenko.
Kiev has also violated other provisions of the Minsk agreements. It continues to bomb the regions controlled by the self-defence forces contrary to the ceasefire terms. It has not adopted, contrary to its pledge, acts on amnesty and security guarantees for the representatives of the self-defence forces that attended the Minsk talks. It has not honoured the provisions on the decentralisation of authority and continuation of a nationwide dialogue. The Kiev government is not fulfilling its commitment to improve the humanitarian situation in Donbass and is creating artificial obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid from Russia.
The Minsk agreements also stipulate the adoption of an economic revival programme for Donbass. But politicians in Kiev said after the parliamentary election [on 26 October] that this assistance would be provided only to those regions in southeastern Ukraine that accept Kiev’s authority, which directly contradicts the letter and spirit of the Minsk Protocol.
Overall, it appears that our partners’ arguments against the 2 November elections are designed to delay them as long as possible, probably in the hope that the problems in the region would grow with the coming winter and hence influence voter mood and the turnout.
In this situation, the self-defence forces’ intention to hold the elections on 2 November is completely legitimate and fully in keeping with the temporal parameters coordinated in Minsk. Adequate authorities must be created without delay in southeastern Ukraine, so that they can address the critically important issues of the regions’ vital needs, including law and order.
Efforts to bring about a settlement in southeastern Ukraine are being taken in an extremely difficult and even conflicting situation. The main task now is to do everything necessary to maintain the fragile truce and to begin the region’s economic and humanitarian revival and sustained political dialogue. Attempts to select one of the interconnected provisions of the Minsk agreements – the election date – without good reason or even in the form of an ultimatum, and to use it to judge the sides’ “behaviour” could derail the peace process and make it a hostage to geopolitical ambitions. We cannot rule out that those who advance these ultimatums want to destroy the Minsk agreements, just as they destroyed the agreement of 21 February 2014, and to gain a pretext for resuming the hostilities in southeastern Ukraine.
Russia strongly urges the sides to prevent this and instead to provide general assistance to turn the 2 November elections into another step towards normalisation and comprehensive settlement of the crisis in Ukraine.
We would like to remind everyone that before the meeting in Minsk the leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics publicly put forth their negotiating stands, which stipulated, in part, that free elections held in these regions based on the principles of self-government would create conditions for a cooperative effort to keep Ukraine united economically, culturally and politically.
Russia will encourage the election winners in southeastern Ukraine to act towards this proclaimed goal. We also expect the Kiev authorities and their Western partners, as well as the OSCE, to act faithfully to fulfil the Minsk agreements. The 2 November elections can be used not to recklessly foster tensions without good reason, but to nudge the situation towards a constructive path of dialogue based on mutual respect and the search for compromise on the basis of a balance of the sides’ legitimate interests, as is stipulated in the documents signed within the framework of the Minsk process.
29 October 2014