Tag Archives: Donbass

EU welcomes Ukraine exchange of prisoners

“A significant exchange of detainees took place following an agreement reached by the Trilateral Contact Group” reads the statement of the European External Action Service on exchange of detainees between Kiev and sefl-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Lughansk.

“This is a welcome example of implementation of one of the measures agreed at the Normandy 4 Summit of 9 December. The European Union expects all parties to further build on this momentum. Work to implement the measures agreed at the Summit must continue.

“We take note of the exchange of people related to the tragic events on Maidan in 2014. We expect all accusations will continue to be investigated and the parties concerned to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

“The European Union reaffirms its support to the work of the Normandy format, the OSCE and the Trilateral Contact Group. It stresses the importance of the implementation of the Minsk agreements in full, including a permanent ceasefire. It is the only way to reach a sustainable and peaceful solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The European Union remains in steadfast support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Kiev and Donbass exchange prisoners

Kiev is exchanging dozens of prisoners with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics in the first time in two years. The swap is a direct result of the recent Normandy Four talks in Paris, hosted by President Macron.

The Donetsk authorities has handed over 51 people to Kiev, while receiving 61. The Lugansk region returned 25 and took in 63 prisoners; nine people held by Kiev refused to take part in the exchange.

The office of Ukrainian President confirmed that Kiev had received a total of 76 people from Donetsk and Lugansk.
Donetsk’s responsible for the exchange said their list could be longer, as some people asked to be repatriated shortly before the exchange.

The swap, carried out under an “all for all” formula, was the first since a similar humanitarian effort in December 2017.

The prisoner exchange was overseen by officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). No ceasefire violations were recorded on the frontier during the exchange operation.

Macron hosts Normandy Summit

The meeting in “Normandy format” concerning Donbass conflict will take place in Paris on December 9 in Élysée Palace, hosted by President Macron, and will include Russian President Putin, Ukrainian President Zelensky, and German Chancellor Merkel. The name of the event is a reference to 2014 peace talks, initiated by President Hollande on the margin of ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Negotiations in Paris will focus on the implementation of the 2014-15 Minsk peace agreement, which provided for an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, the withdrawal of heavy weapons, and an effective truce, putting an end to casualties among military and civilians.

Since Zelensky’s election victory in April an exchange of 70 prisoners, the withdrawal of the troops from three small areas on the front line, and the return of Ukrainian warships seized by Russian coast guards.

Vladimir Putin had conceded “cautious optimism” on the issue of the break-away Russian-speaking regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, both proclaiming their independence in aftermath of the coup d’état in Kiev, when democratically elected Ukranian President Yanukouvych was overthrown and field the country.

Earlier in the week Zelensky indicated that he initially wanted the Paris talks to focus on three points: a new exchange of prisoners, the implementation of a durable ceasefire, and the dismantling of any armed group “illegally” in Ukrainian territory – implicitly referring to Russian-speaking militia in Donetsk and Lugansk.

Moscow’s priority, in contrast, is to create condition for the elections in the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, moving to the point “8” of the Minsk Agreements, guaranteeing de-centralisation of power, and permanent Special status of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. People of Donbass been also insisting on their linguistic rights, peoples militia, and border trade with Russia.

Macron and Merkel share the goal of reviving peace process, which is the only active armed conflict in Europe, which has caused more than 13,000 deaths since it occurred in 2014. Tomorrow’s gathering will be the first meeting between Putin and Zelensky, who was elected upon promise to resolve the Donbass conflict, and establish lasting peace in East of Ukraine.

Putin to meet Zelensky bilaterally

Russian President Vladimir Putin schedules bilateral meetings with Ukrainian, French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and President Vladimir Zelensky at margins of the Normandy Four Summit in Paris on December 9, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced.

Peskov underlined that the Kremlin expected the Normandy Four summit will contribute to conflict resolution in southeastern Ukraine.

“[Putin’s] attitude is serious, the only expectation is to facilitate efforts to resolve the domestic conflict in southeastern Ukraine, ensure a common understanding that there is no alternative to implementing the Minsk Agreements and prevent attempts to dilute them,” spokesperson said.

Peskov expressed confidence in French authorities capabilities to succeed in creating necessary conditions for thec Summit despite the current protests in Paris.

We are not inclined to exaggerate the threats the Summit could face as we believe that the French authorities are capable of creating conditions for the meeting and will do it,” Peskov said.

Russia considers facilitation of Ukrainians naturalisation

Russia is considering the possibility of facilitating the naturalisation rules for all Ukrainian nationals, President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference concluding his visit to China.

We are thinking about providing the right to obtain Russian passports under a simplified procedure to all Ukrainian nationals,” he said.

Putin emphasized that the decision to ease Russian citizenship for self-proclaimed Donbass Lugansk and Donetsk Republics residents “was not spontaneous, it was not made at the spur of the moment.”

Before the decree was singed, we had made all the calculations concerning the number of people that may apply for citizenship, including the number of retired persons – they account for about 30% of the possible applicants,” Putin underlined.

On April 24, in Moscow (pictured) the Russian President signed a decree, which eases Russian citizenship rules for residents of certain regions of southeastern Ukraine.

Individuals permanently residing in certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions have the right to apply for Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure,” the decree reads. According to the document, the decision has been made “in order to protect human rights and freedoms” based on generally accepted international laws.

 

Putin facilitates naturalisation procedure for Donabass

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree, which makes it possible for residents of Donbass to obtain Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure. The document has been published on the Kremlin’s website.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko  accused Moscow of crossing a “red line” by signing a decree to facilitate the process of obtaining Russian citizenship in eastern Ukraine.

It’s a fact that this is about the Kremlin preparing the next point of aggression against our country: the annexation of Ukraine’s Donbass or the creation of a Russian enclave in Ukraine,” he said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin says that Russian citizenship degree is “the continuation of aggression and interference in our internal affairs,” urges Ukrainian citizens in areas held by Russia-backed separatists “not to accept Russian passports.”

Russia has deprived you of your present lives and now it is encroaching on your future”  Minister concluded.

“Individuals permanently residing in certain areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions have the right to apply for Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure,” the decree reads. According to the document, the decision has been made “in order to protect human rights and freedoms” based on generally accepted international laws.

Gratitude to Russia for making a decision on granting citizenship under a simplified procedure. It is an outstanding event all LPR citizens have been waiting for,” said Leonid Pasechnk, Head of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR).

 

EU ‘Sanctions war’ with Russia continues

On 21 December 2018, the European Council prolonged the economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy until 31 July 2019.

This decision follows an update from President Macron and Chancellor Merkel to the European Council of 13-14 December 2018 on the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which the sanctions are linked. Given that no progress has been made, the European Council took the political decision to roll-over the economic sanctions against Russia.

The West should either recognize the results of Crimea referendum on reunification with Russia,  or stop imposing sanctions against people living in Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his traditional annual news conference on December 20.

In his words, “it is a curious situation” as Russia is being accused of Crimea’s annexation or in the other words of taking Crimea by force. “But if it was annexation and forcible takeover, then people living in Crimea have nothing to do with that,” he noted. “And if it was their choice in voting, then it was not annexation whatsoever.”

However not all the political forces in the EU share the European Council point of view: since 2014 Marine Le Pen, the leader of French RN (former Front National) has not seen any reason to dispute the result of the referendum.

I see no grounds whatsoever to question this referendum,” she said. She also added that she regards Crimea as a integral part of Russia. According to TASS News Agency Marine Le Pen “hopes to visit Crimea in April” 2019.

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