First Deputy Chair of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s representative in the humanitarian subgroup of the Tripartite Contact Group on Donbas settlement Iryna Gerashchenko says recent statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin show an unfavorable background is being created for his first dialogue with the new president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Putin is making boorish statements on Russian passportization of all Ukrainians. His traditional KGB tactic is to raise stakes and escalate the situation, creating crises before important meetings," Gerashchenko wrote on Facebook.
"He is preparing an unfavorable background for the first dialogue with the president-elect. Nothing new or unexpected here," she noted.
According to Gerashchenko, all countries and organizations are awaiting a "reset" of Ukraine-Russia talks after the new president takes office.
"The EU, the U.S., the OSCE. and other international organizations have great expectations as if new opportunities are opening up. Also, nothing unexpected here. Everyone understands that Poroshenko would continue to pursue his line in negotiations with Putin and with the rest of the world. And they expect that the Ukrainian neophyte could change tactics, and, perhaps, manage to achieve at least some progress on Donbas. Everyone is waiting for a reset. This is expected and not bad. But there is one thing here... they expect a reset at Ukraine's expense and as a result of compromises made exclusively by the Ukrainian side. The danger of such an approach was appreciably voiced during the special debates at the UN Security Council, where most were too shy to recall Russia and Putin," wrote Gerashchenko.
At the same time, according to Gerashchenko, Ukraine's response should be clear and unambiguous.
"First. The priority is the implementation of the Minsk Security Accords. Only a comprehensive ceasefire and withdrawal of foreign weapons and equipment form the necessary prerequisites for the implementation of other items. 'Foreign' means Russian, there are no other types there," she noted.
She also stressed the need to implement the humanitarian set of the Minsk agreements.
"But in no case should the key set of security issues be replaced with more important, humanitarian ones. Because this rhetoric and the substitution of priorities was very obvious at the UN Security Council," she added.
In addition, according to Gerashchenko, Ukraine should insist on an exchange in the all-for-all" format – both of hostages held in the occupied territories and political prisoners of the Kremlin.
"And there is one more danger –Russia and its Donbas puppets don't confirm to us the holding of dozens of military and civilians, they hide information about them, demanding from us instead to hand over hundreds of convicted separatists, Russian nationals (who are included in swap lists cdrawn by militants), and confirming just a couple dozen hostages for the exchange. These traps are also very dangerous," Ukraine's envoy said.
"The missing ones are our special pain," Gerashchenko wrote. "Throughout these four years, the Russians have been categorically refusing to create a tripartite mechanism with the ICRC. They've been pushing us toward creating a group with pseudo-republics only. But this would legitimize the separation of Donbas," said Gerashchenko.
At the same time, the official stressed that Ukraine had fulfilled its obligations under the political bloc of the Minsk Agreements.
"The political bloc that Putin always focuses on. In fact, Ukraine has fulfilled it. We adopted an amnesty law (which, incidentally, does not cover terrorists and murderers, but does those who are 'lost'), and on peculiarities of local government. But these laws didn't come into force because of the Russian Federation and the Kremlin, who held illegal elections in the occupied territories in 2014 and 2018. Therefore, to implement the political bloc, Putin must cancel his decrees on the recognition of the so-called IDs of the occupied parts of Donbas and the so-called results of the so-called elections. Putin must repeal his own decrees on the illegal passportization of Ukrainians, while all pseudo-bodies of pseudo-authority in the occupied Donbas must be immediately disbanded. And any regional elections in Donbas shall be held only after demilitarization and in line with Ukrainian laws," she noted.
According to Gerashchenko, the main thing is that Ukraine should firmly stand on the position: no direct negotiations with the puppet regimes created by the Russian Federation, no legitimization of pseudo-republics. She also noted that during the latest meeting in Minsk, the Ukrainian delegation stressed that, despite the change of power, Ukraine’s strategy will remain unchanged – complete de-occupation and the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
As UNIAN reported earlier, on April 24, the President of the Russian Federation signed a decree on the simplified procedure for issuing Russian passports to residents of the temporarily occupied Donbas.
On April 27, Putin declared that Russia could simplify the procedure for easing naturalization procedure for all Ukrainians, not just those living in the occupied territories of Donbas.
Also, the Russian president declared his readiness to negotiate with Zelensky to end the war in eastern Ukraine.