Photo from UNIAN, by Viktoria Pryshutova

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Oleksiy Reznikov has said the full and safe reintegration of Russian-occupied areas of Donbas into Ukraine, including the complete demining of the territories will take at least 25 years.

The official made a comment during an online meeting with EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič, the ministry's press service said on its website on November 10.

Read alsoUkraine "has almost implemented" all steps agreed upon at Normandy Four summit in Paris – Reznikov

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In particular, the sides discussed issues of humanitarian mine clearance in Donbas. Reznikov shared his experience following his visit to the Republic of Croatia. Despite the fact that the war there ended 25 years ago, clearance operations are still underway there, which are expected to be completed by 2025.

"We understand that we have a similar path ahead. I'm not afraid to admit that the full and safe reintegration [of the occupied territories] into Ukraine, including the completion of demining, will take at least 25 years," Reznikov added.

In turn, Lenarčič reiterated the European Union's readiness to help Ukraine in this regard.

The two also discussed the access of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to Ukrainian citizens held as hostages in prisons of the temporarily occupied territories, including a prison in city of Donetsk called Isolation.

"This is a torture chamber where prisoners, Ukrainian citizens, are mocked and killed. The journalist and hero, Stas [Stanislav] Aseyev, who was kept in the torture chamber for 28 months, found the strength to survive and was released from captivity in December last year. It's painful and scary to talk about what they are doing to our citizens. I beg you to meet with Stas and hear firsthand about all the atrocities in Isolation. We must together ensure that the ICRC is allowed access to all Ukrainian captives. This refers not only to Donbas, but also to [Russian-] occupied Crimea," Reznikov said.

Donbas Action Plan

  • The Action Plan for Donbas was announced by the Office of the President after the latest TCG (Trilateral Contact Group) meeting. The Office said the plan should be developed using the proposals put forward at the meeting of the Normandy Four leaders' advisors.
  • On November 5, the Ukrainian delegation to the TCG named five main points of the new Action Plan:
  • Withdrawal of foreign troops, illegal armed groups, and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine in early 2021;
  • Cancellation by Russian authorities of a number of decisions and acts that directly meddle in the affairs of the certain areas in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, for example, on a simplified procedure for granting Russian citizenship to local residents;
  • Restoring control over the corresponding section of the Russian-Ukrainian state border with the help of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission;
  • A fourfold increase in the number of OSCE SMM representatives (by 1,500); and
  • Only if the first four conditions are met – elections in the territories that are now temporarily occupied by Russian-controlled forces shall be prepared and conducted.