*The European Union acknowledges the statements made by the Iranian authorities taking responsibility for the crash of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS 752 on 8 January* reads the statement of the spokesperson of the European External Action Service.
*We deplore this tragedy which has caused the death of so many people from various countries and we reiterate our heartfelt condolences to their families and loved ones.
*In view of the commitments given by President Rouhani, the EU expects that Iran will continue to cooperate fully and undertake a comprehensive and transparent investigation, which should abide by international standards, into how this tragedy occurred. Appropriate measures need to be taken to ensure that such a horrible accident can never occur again*.
“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 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.
“The Russian Federation has finalised the construction of the railway section of the Kerch Bridge and is opening railway traffic to the Crimean Peninsula without Ukraine’s consent. This constitutes another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russia” European External Action Service spokesperson statement reads.
“The railway link is yet another step towards a forced integration of the illegally-annexed peninsula with Russia and Crimea´s isolation from Ukraine of which it remains a part.
“Furthermore, the bridge limits the passage of vessels through the Kerch Strait to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea. The European Union expects Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage through the Kerch strait, in accordance with international law.
“The European Union reiterates its full support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. The European Union does not and will not recognise the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia.”
It will take around 14 mln to travel over the Crimean Bridge and 13 mln tonnes of goods will be carried, President Vladimir Putin said at the opening ceremony for the railway traffic over the bridge, Russian new agency TASS reports.
“It is planned to carry 14 mln passengers and about 13 mln tonnes of goods in the next year [over the Crimean Bridge],” the head of state said.
The 19-kilometer Crimean Bridge, the longest one in Russia, links the Taman Peninsula (Russia’s Krasnodar Region) and the Kerch Peninsula (Crimea). It will provide uninterrupted transport link between Crimea and other regions of Russia.
European Union leaders intend to extend sanctions against Russia over Crimea and Moscow’s involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the European diplomats say. (Image above: Crimea bridge at night)
According to EU diplomats the European Council will confirm its united support for Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity, and continue policy of the duration of the economic sanctions against Russian Federation.
Recently French President Macron has stepped forward in favour of rethinking the strategy vis-à-vis Russia, and some influential EU countries, namely Italy and Germany, have powerful lobbies pushing for effective relations with Moscow.
“We also had the opportunity, in the case of Russia and Ukraine, to listen to a debriefing presented after the meeting of the Normandy format, which was held in Paris by Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel. This was an opportunity to exchange views on the situation in the region and it was an opportunity, as you are certainly aware, to decide to extend the sanctions for another six months, taking into account the fact that we consider that the implementation of the Minsk agreement remains an extremely essential point for us. This is a point for which we will continue to be very attentive and very active in the future” said Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, while commenting on sanctions extension for next six months.
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.
Ukrainian film director and human rights activist Oleg (43) will visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 26 November to receive in persona the 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
When Parliament’s Human rights prize was awarded last year, Sentsov was in prison in Russia serving 20 years, convicted of terrorism for setting fires to the doors of the offices of the ruling United Russia party in Crimea, and plotting to blow up a monument to Lenin. Sentsov became world famous due to 145 days hunger strike, which evoked a lot of sympathies, and reactions among public, supporting an international campaign for his release.
After serving five years he became one of thirty-five Ukrainian citizens released by Russia in exchange for Ukraine freeing an equal number of Russians.