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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said he cannot imagine elections held in Donbas while the border with Russia in eastern Ukraine's warzone remains "leaky."

During a Q&A on Twitter, the top diplomat was asked "Is the control of Ukraine over the temporarily uncontrolled section of the border with the Russian Federation considered a 'red line' and a precondition [...] for holding elections in Donbas?"

"I can't imagine elections with a leaky border," the minister replied.

Idea of local elections in occupied territories: background

  • Russia sees the Minsk agreements as tools with which to break Ukraine’s sovereignty. Its interpretation reverses key elements in the sequence of actions: elections in occupied Donbas would take place before Ukraine had reclaimed control of the border; this would be followed by comprehensive autonomy for Russia’s proxy regimes, crippling the central authorities in Kyiv. Ukraine would be unable to govern itself effectively or orient itself towards the West, according to Chatham House.
  • On July 15, 2020, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a resolution scheduling local elections across Ukraine for October 25. Legislators note that the elections in the occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas shall not be scheduled or held.
  • On August 19, at a meeting of the delegates to the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas settlement, Ukraine's delegation chief, first president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk informed the team members of the appeal he had submitted to the Verkhovna Rada to consider the issue of the resolution's compliance with Law "On a special procedure for local self-government in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions" and a Package of Measures for the implementation of Minsk agreements.
  • On August 20, journalist Sergiy Garmash, another member of Ukraine's delegation representing certain areas of Donetsk region, opined that by "leaking" to the media a document demanding to cancel the decision of the Verkhovna Rada on local elections, Moscow, makes it impossible to fulfill the requirement or even put the relevant question before Parliament. Garmash believes that in this way Russia has deliberately driven the settlement process into a dead end, and blocked a meeting of advisors to the Normandy Four (Ukraine, Germany, France, and Russia) leaders earlier scheduled for late August.
  • On the same day, Kravchuk said that Russia was blocking the TCG work with a demand to repeal the resolution of the Verkhovna Rada on the impossibility of holding local elections in the occupied territories. At the TCG meeting on August 19, he said, representatives of the Russian Federation and their proxy forces in Donbas stated that they "do not object to the elections being held throughout Ukraine," but demand that the paragraph on the impossibility of voting in the occupied territories be repealed.