First Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian delegation to the Minsk Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on Donbas Vitold Fokin must resign over his controversial statements.
This opinion was expressed by head of the Ukrainian President's Office Andriy Yermak on Facebook on September 29.
"My personal position is that Mr. Fokin must leave the TCG," Yermak said when commenting on Fokin's recent statements.
At a parliamentary committee meeting on September 29, Fokin said he had not yet seen evidence that Russia had been waging a war against Ukraine. "As for the war. I am not a politician and I cannot give any definition of this. Therefore, I have not seen any confirmation that there is a war between Russia and Ukraine," he said.
Yermak noted that although it was not Fokin who "had agreed on the commitments to arrange elections in ORDLO [Russia-occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions] before, not after, Ukraine's retaking the border with Russia" and it was not Fokin who "had agreed on the commitments to consult on amendments to Ukrainian laws," he must resign.
Yermak also stressed that the official position of Ukraine regarding the war in Donbas, which has been going on for the seventh year, is the following:
"Point 1. Yes, we have an ongoing war where Russia is a party to the conflict rather than an observer. And precisely because of this, as well as because of the annexation of Crimea, the West has imposed sanctions on Russia. Point 2. We insist on the complete end of the [Russian] occupation and return [by Russia] of all our territories – only this could mean the restoration of true peace," Yermak wrote.
"Russia must leave our land, taking everything with it – the army, armed formations, military equipment, occupying structures," he added.
Yermak also says that the TCG does not make any decisions, as it is a platform for agreeing details and deals made by the Normandy Four leaders (Ukraine, Germany, France, and Russia).
"All key decisions are made by the president and the parliament of Ukraine, and the government. The president [acts] within the framework of the Normandy leaders' dialogue. And the Verkhovna Rada [Ukraine's parliament] adopts respective laws. And there's nothing else," he added.
Response to Fokin's controversial statement
- Vitold Fokin says he does not see a war between Ukraine and Russia in Donbas; he believes that mercenaries from 30 countries have been fighting against the Ukrainian army in the east of Ukraine, and he is convinced a comprehensive amnesty is needed. He made such statements, answering questions from Members of Parliament during a meeting of the parliament's Committee on Organizing State Power, Local Self-Government, Regional Development and Urban Planning. It took Fokin several weeks to appear in parliament to clarify his position after a notorious interview he gave to one of the pro-Russian publications.
- All the members of the committee, with the exception of those from the Opposition Platform — For Life Party, backed a motion asking President Volodymyr Zelensky to recall Fokin from the Ukrainian delegation in Minsk.
- The official position of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group was announced by the head of the delegation, Leonid Kravchuk, his first deputy Oleksiy Reznikov and deputy Oleksandr Merezhko, who said: "Mr. Fokin, like any person, has the right to his own position, no matter how strange it may seem. But being part of the Ukrainian delegation at the negotiations with the TCG, we must adhere exclusively to the official position of our state, even when we do not participate in the negotiations."
- Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, in turn, posted an emotionally charged response in which he criticized Fokin's statement. "[Mr.] Fokin, thousands of our soldiers and civilians were killed in the war, which, as you claim, does not exist. Tell that to the families of those who died from Russia's multiple rocket launchers near Saur-Mohyla and Ilovaisk!? .. You scoundrel. 'They aren't there' – these are the words of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, rather than those of a representative of Ukraine," the minister said.
- Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Serhiy Kryvonos dubbed Fokin a 'senile, blind fool.'