Journalist Sergiy Garmash, who is a member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on Donbas settlement, has said the work of the political subgroup and the prisoner swap are being blocked at the Minsk talks.
"Despite plenty of conspiracy theories about some secret agreements reached at the latest meeting of the Normandy Four, today's meeting of the Minsk TCG allows us to say that nothing global has been agreed there. Because nothing has changed in the TCG: the work of the political subgroup is still being blocked, as well as the prisoner swap efforts," he wrote on Facebook.
"The reason is the same – the resolution of the Verkhovna Rada on local elections. Collaborators from ORDLO [certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions] demand that it be brought into line with the Minsk agreements. Russia is still pretending to be an observer," Garmash added.
TCG talks: latest
- On July 15, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a resolution scheduling the next local elections for October 25. The resolution has not appointed or scheduled elections in the occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas.
- At a TCG meeting on August 19, Ukraine delegation chief Leonid Kravchuk informed other delegates he had submitted to Parliament an appeal calling to verify the resolution's compliance with the law on a special procedure for local government in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as the Package of Measures to implement Minsk agreements.
- On August 26, Garmash in a Facebook post opined that, by leaking to the media a document demanding that the Verkhovna Rada resolution on local elections be repealed, Moscow made it impossible to fulfill this requirement and even submit the issue for Parliament consideration. Garmash believes that in this way Russia has deliberately driven the situation into a dead end, blocking a meeting of advisors to the Normandy Four leaders earlier scheduled for late August.
- On the same day, Kravchuk said that Russia had been blocking the TCG work with a demand to cancel the Parliament resolution banning local elections in the occupied territories. He said that at the TCG meeting on August 19 and at the meetings of subgroups, Russian delegates and their Donbas proxies had stated they "do not object to the elections being held throughout Ukraine," but demand that the paragraph on the impossibility of holding the vote in the occupied territories be canceled in the Verkhovna Rada resolution.