Tag Archives: Minsk agreements

OSCE records ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk

In Donetsk region, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMMrecorded more ceasefire violations, however, fewer explosions (about 110), compared with the previous reporting period (about 150 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded at southerly directions of Chermalyk (government-controlled, 31km north-east of Mariupol), in areas south of Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk) and in areas south-east of Donetsk city centre. (Image above: illustration).

In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded more ceasefire violations, including more explosions (about 670), compared with the previous reporting period (30 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations, including about 600 explosions, were recorded at southerly and easterly directions of Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk).”

The Ukrainian army has shelled the positions of the militia in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) six times over the past 24 hours, the LPR defense ministry reported.

The shelling targeted the areas of Pervomaisk, the urban-type settlement of Frunze, the villages of Zhelobok and Smeloye,” the LuganskInformCenter news agency quoted a spokesman for the LPR people’s militia as saying.

According to the spokesman, the fire was conducted from mortars.

The Contact Group’s security subgroup agreed to declare a new ‘spring’ ceasefire in Donbass on March 7. It entered into force from the midnight of March 8 according to Kiev time. However, the Ukrainian military broke the truce just five minutes after it had taken effect.

MEPs against Russia ‘strategic partner’ status

At Strasbourg Plenary (13.03.2019) Members of the European Parliament agreed that the EU should remain open to imposing further sanctions if Russia continues to violate international law.

Parliament adopted a resolution by 402 votes to 163, with 89 abstentions, assessing the current state of EU-Russia political relations.

The time for nice and diplomatic language is over. There is very little room for any cooperation as long as Russia continues to occupy parts of Ukraine and attacks other European countries“, said rapporteur Sandra Kalniete (EPP, Latvia).

Sanctions must be prolonged MEPs also draw attention to new areas of tension between the EU and Russia which have occurred since 2015, including Russia’s intervention in Syria, interference in countries such as Libya and the Central African Republic, and continuous aggressive action in Ukraine. They also highlight Russia’s support for eurosceptic parties and far-right movements, and accused Russians in meddling in elections and systematically violating human rights.

MEPs underlined that the EU should consider adoption of further sanctions against Russia, especially those targeting individuals. Sanctions should be proportionate to the threats posed by Russia, they add. In December last year, the Council prolonged economic sanctions until 31 July 2019.

The Europarliament resolution underlines that the EU should review its current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Russia and limit cooperation to areas of common interest. Global challenges, such as climate change, energy security, cyber, artificial intelligence and counter terrorism, calling for selective engagement.

Closer relations will only be possible MEPs suggest on condition of Russia full implementation of the Minsk agreements to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine and respect to international law, says the text.

MEPs condemn Russia‘s disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks, aimed at increasing tensions within the EU and its member states. They are deeply concerned that the EU‘s response to propaganda and disinformation is insufficient and should be further strengthened, in particular before the upcoming European elections in May 2019. In this regard, the funding and human resources for the EU‘s East Stratcom Task Force must be substantially increased, they stress.

In resolution MEPs strongly denounce Russia‘s violation of the airspace of EU states, especially in the Baltic Sea region, where territorial waters and the airspace have been repeatedly breached. This disregard for international rules poses a threat to Russia‘s neighbours in the Black Sea, Baltic Sea and Medditeranean regions.

MEPs also reiterate their concerns that the Nord Stream-2 project could reinforce the EU‘s dependence on Russian gas supplies and threaten the EU internal market.

In the resolution the concern is expressed about Russia‘s continuous support for authoritarian regimes and countries such as North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Syria. They also regret that in order to destabilise EU candidate countries, Russia gives its support to organisations and political forces like those opposing the Prespa Agreement that has resolved the long-standing dispute on the name between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece.

MEPs condemn illegal financial activities and money laundering by Russia, potentially amounting to hundreds of billions of euros being laundered through the EU every year, which poses a threat to European security and stability. Sandra Kalniete’s report underlines that EU countries concerned must end all ‘golden visa/passport‘ programmes, which benefit Russian oligarchs.



EU sanction policy against Russia continues

At European Union Summit in Brussels the leaders unanimously endorsed the prolongation of the economic sanctions against Russia for its actions against Ukraine for another six months with the official rollover expected next week.

The sanctions, mainly targeting the Russian banking and energy sectors, were first imposed in the summer of 2014 in aftermath of  Maidan revolution in Ukraine  and have been extended every six months since then.

EU unanimously prolongs economic sanctions against Russia given zero progress in implementation of Minsk agreements,” European Council President Donald Tusk wrote in his Twitter micro blog referring to peace accords brokered by Germany and France in the Minsk, Belarus capital, aiming to end ongoing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.

‘In a short term, the impact of oil prices is much more important for Russia than any sanctions,” said Sergey Khestanov (Сергей Хестанов), a professor at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) . Oil income makes up 40%  of federal budget revenues and is trading at its highest level in more than four years.

EU regards Donetsk and Lugansk elections as illegal

The EU considers the “elections” planned for 11 November 2018 in the non-government controlled territories of the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” and “Donetsk People’s Republic” as illegal and illegitimate and will not recognise them. The EU condemns these ”elections”, as they are in breach of international law, undermine the commitments taken under the Minsk agreements and violate Ukraine‘s sovereignty and law” says the text of the  declaration of the EU top diplomat Federica Moghereini on behalf of the European Union on the elections planned in self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic and People’s Republic Donetsk on 11 November.

“The Minsk agreements exclusively provide for local elections to be held within the framework of the Ukrainian legislation and under the OSCE standards and observation. These reasons render these so-called “elections” null and void.” the declaration concludes.

Both break-away Republic were formed on territories with Russian-speaking population, rejecting violent coup-d’état in Kiev, overthrowing legitimate President Viktor Yanukovych. 

The European Union reiterates its full support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders“, Mogherini reaffirms.

Nowadays only one in 10 Ukrainians consider violent coup d’état (2014),  named “Maidan Revolution“, or “Euromaidan” in Kiev (pictured), leading to beak-away of eastern Russian-speaking region of Donbass, and ongoing conflict as “positive”.


12/11/2018 AMENDED:

The Donetsk acting head Denis Pushilin, whose predecessor was assassinated in an explosion in August, was elected as leader with 61 percent of the vote while the acting chief of Luhansk, Leonid Pasechnik, won with 68 percent.


Special status of Donbass prolonged

Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) has passed a law “On creating conditions for a peaceful settlement of the situation in separate districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions” extending the special status of the Donbass region by one year. However, it contains the provisions, according to which the special status will come into force only after “all illegal armed units and military equipment, along with militants and mercenaries” are withdrawn from these territories. The bill in this form was supported by 229 lawmakers (with 226 required votes).

The validity period of the Law on granting special self-government status to separate districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions passed back in 2014 expires on October 18. It is the key document for a political settlement in eastern Ukraine. Representatives of the self-proclaimed Donbass republics have said on numerous occasions that the refusal to extend it will be tantamount to refusal to implement the Minsk agreements.

Having extended the special status for another 12 months, Kiev, nevertheless, added to the text of the law the reservation, which actually blocks its coming into effect until it gains full control over the region.

Having extended the special status for another 12 months, Kiev, nevertheless, added to the text of the law the reservation, which actually blocks its coming into effect until it gains full control over the region.

This effectively cancells all Contact Group negotiations on local elections in the Donbass region and the special self-government status as part of Ukraine’s constitutional reform and the agreement reached by the “Normandy Four” on the mechanism of enactment of the special status law in accordance with the “Steinmeier formula” (proposed by Frank-Walter Steinmeier who served as German Foreign Minister from December 2013 to January 2017).



EU concerned about side effects of US anti-Russian measures

The EU is currently raising its concerns via all diplomatic channels with the US and its counterparts on the side effects of the new US package of measures against Russia on the EU. The Commission will continue to closely monitor the on-going legislative process in the US and the subsequent implementation of the Bill and will act swiftly if and when needed.

On the basis of a presentation by President Juncker and Vice-President Katainen, the College of Commissioners discussed today the state of play of the US draft Bill on Russia sanctions – “Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act 2017”. Commissioners expressed their concerns notably because of the draft Bill’s possible impact on EU energy independence.

The Bill as endorsed by the US House of Representatives demonstrates that a number of these concerns are being taken into account. It nevertheless foresees the imposition of sanctions on any company (including European) which contributes to the development, maintenance, modernisation or repair of energy export pipelines by the Russian Federation. Depending on its implementation, this could affect infrastructure transporting energy resources to Europe, for instance the maintenance and upgrade of pipelines in Russia that feed the Ukraine gas transit system. It could also have an impact on projects crucial to the EU’s diversification objectives such as the Baltic Liquefied Natural Gas project.

While the College underlined the importance of the sanctions regime against Russia and its strict implementation, it expressed concerns about the possible negative political consequences of the draft Bill. As reiterated at the G7 in May, new sanctions should always be coordinated between allies.

“The EU is fully committed to the Russia sanctions regime. However, G7 unity on sanctions and close coordination among allies are at the heart of ensuring the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. This is a core objective that the EU and the US share. The US Bill could have unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU’s energy security interests. This is why the Commission concluded today that if our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days. America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last” – Juncker said.

The Commission will continue to closely monitor the on-going legislative process in the US and the subsequent implementation of the Bill and will act swiftly if and when needed.

The president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker reacted upon the newly adopted US sanctions package against Russia with a statement:

Moscow wishes to continue talks with EU

The European Union’s sanctions imposed on Russia in 2014 were mentioned during Monday’s talks, 24.04.2017, with the top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow.

“As far as the sanctions are concerned, this issue was touched upon,” – Lavrov confirmed.

“We never raise this issue because sanctions are part of those artificial problems that hamper our relations with the European Union,” he added.

Russian diplomatic noticed that Mogherini confirmed the European Union wanted “everybody” to implement the Minsk agreements,  the Russian foreign minister said.

“As you understand, this includes the Kiev government, the Donetsk and Lugansk militias, as well as the European Union, because Germany and France acted on behalf of the European Union. In addition, all these agreements were approved by the United Nations Security Council,” – reminded Lavrov.

“But if everybody should implement the agreements, then Russia, apparently, should make Donetsk and Luganks, who signed the Minsk accords, strictly abide by their obligations while Germany and France should ensure that the Ukrainian government does the same,” he continued. “We are ready to do our part but unfortunately, Kiev has been avoiding direct dialogue with the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and the the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic though it is written in black and white in the Minsk documents.”
Lavrov confirmed that there was no alternative to the Minsk agreements.

Problems in relations of Russia and the European Union should be discussed and no artificial obstacles should be made out of them, the Russian foreign minister stressed.

“Despite the systemic problem, we still have a wish to continue talks. We hope that there will be a wise assessment of developments.”


OSCE PA: ‘Minsk’ stalemate


Ukraine is not ready for dialogue with Russia and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR, LPR),  said Pyotr Tolstoy, ahead of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA).

After meeting with the Ukrainian delegation members at OSCE PA winter session, Tolstoy, deputy speaker of Duma, said that “OSCE PA Secretary General Mr. Montella took me over to meet the head of the Ukrainian delegation, we exchanged a few words but our Ukrainian counterparts chose to operate propaganda clich·s. All in all, no dialogue is possible for now.”

“Unfortunately, we can see that the current Kiev regime is not ready for dialogue with Donbass as well, it is not ready to speak with the DPR and LPR. It seems, only time can make our Ukrainian counterparts change their stance,” Tolstoy said in an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

PHOTO: Funeral of a solider killed in Ukrainian conflict.

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed and more than 20,000 injured since the Ukraine conflict outbreak in April 2014, UN source.



EU: Ministers to discuss Ukraine


6/02/2017 The Council, chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, will discuss the situation in Ukraine. Ministers are expected to assess progress in the implementation of the reform agenda in Ukraine over the past year as well as EU support to the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

The Council will discuss the political situation in Libya, one year after the formation of the Government of National Accord. The economic and security situation may also be touched upon.Ministers for foreign affairs will also discuss how to work with Libya to address irregular migration along the Central Mediterranean route.

The Council will discuss the situation in Egypt and the way forward in EU-Egypt relations. Ministers may also more specifically address migration, counter-terrorism and Egypt’s role in the region.


The Council will discuss the Middle East peace process following up on the discussion that ministers held in January and taking stock of the most recent developments.


Mogherini to meet Lavrov


The EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini to meet Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in coming weeks, according to communication of the European External Action Service (EEAS).

In view of the upcoming Foreign Affairs council on Monday,  6/2/2017, Mogherini discussed with Minister Lavrov a range of international issues, starting with the situation in Libya, and the perspectives of the political agreement after the visit of the Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj last week in Brussels, and the renewed committment of the EU to support UN-backed government in Tripoli. In spite of the financial and training assistance the EU pledged to Tripolitanians, the capacity of implementation of these plans remains unclear in fragmented and ravaged by multiple groups of Islamic terrorists country. Five years after Colonel Gaddafi’s assassination (20/10/2011)  Libya stays a failed state with competing centers of power: in the East field marshal Khalifa Haftar in oil-rich Cyrenaica, throwing his support to the Parliament in Tobruk, in the West the  Government of National Accord, hardly controlling Tripoli. Reportedly marshal Haftar has been intensely courted by Russians, in spite of his presumed closeness to US government during  exile in Virginia.


Minister Lavrov exchanged opinions on Syria, informing  on the experience of recent talks in Astana, while Mogherini  informed the minister the European initiative with the regional players and on the upcoming Brussels conference on the future of Syria.

Mogherini and Lavrov spoke at length about the escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine, stressing the need to stop fighting immediately, and to focus on full implementation of the Minsk agreements.


The exchange between Mogherini and Lavrov took place during a telephone conversation on 3 February 2017.

Photo: illustration