Any direct negotiations with Russian-controlled militants are off the table, assures Vice Prime Minister, Minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, First Deputy Representative of Ukraine to the Trilateral Contact Group for the Donbas settlement, Oleksiy Reznikov.
Speaking at an online discussion "What awaits Donbas: public opinion trends against the background of the latest news from the Minsk TCG, hostilities, and a pandemic", Reznikov said: "We aren't talking about any direct negotiations, and there can't be any."
Vice PM added that the negotiation process is being misunderstood. In this regard, he noted that the text of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of Minsk Agreements refers to several areas of settlement – in the field of security, socio-economic and political areas. Local elections should complete the final stage of political settlement, Reznikov recalls.
"But this is preceded by a certain set of legal changes, starting from decentralization by amending the Constitution and to with the adoption of a number of legislative acts, such as, for example, the law on the peculiarities of local government in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which we today habitually brand a 'law on special status'. Such a law has been adopted, and these eight appendices to Paragraph 11 of the Minsk Agreements are included in this 'law on special status', laying down issues such as people's police and the rest," Reznikov said.
At the same time, he recalled that paragraphs 9, 11, 12 of the Package of Measures mentioned three times "the need for coordination and consultation with representatives of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions".
In this regard, Reznikov noted that Ukraine is trying to fulfill all the conditions of the Minsk agreements to settle and end the war, informing international partners of its efforts.
"Everyone's asking us, how we're going to coordinate and how we'll have these consultations. And fortunately, to date, the package of measures doesn't say how these discussions and consultations should be held, while the very requirement remains. And therefore, when we talk with foreign ambassadors, I explain to them that we're looking for a path, and we will find this path toward consultations, while not encroaching on sovereignty. And in no case, under no circumstances shall we legitimize those with whom we can't sit at the negotiating table. We only negotiate in the trilateral format," Reznikov emphasized.
The official specified that the TCG includes Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE.
"Everyone else is invited parties. Today we perceive them as those invited by the Russian Federation," the vice prime minister added, underlining the fact that these 'invitees' are also holders of Russian passports, which "indicates the existence of that effective control of the Russian Federation over these territories."
Reznikov says Russian citizenship of militants Russia has invited to talks "will be essential for international trials."
"On our part, we plan to attract real representatives of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions who today live in the territory controlled by Ukraine and have the status of internally displaced persons," Reznikov said.