Vice PM calming Donbas truce critics: No ban in place on returning fire
The latest agreements of the Trilateral Contact Group for Donbas settlement on a complete and comprehensive ceasefire does not deprive Ukraine Army of the right to open fire when it comes to self-defense, says Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Minister for the Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Oleksiy Reznikov.
The comment came as Reznikov joined an online discussion on security and political challenges of the Minsk peace process and the Normandy format.
"Today I'd like to reassure the critics of this truce, who claim that the Ukrainian Army has allegedly been deprived of the right to open fire. This isn't so. I'd like to remind everyone of the norms of international law, starting from the UN Charter. Its Article 51 clearly grants any country the right to self-defense, which, in fact, is the norm Ukraine has been applying since the start of Russia's military aggression," Reznikov said.
Also, he recalled Article 40 of the 1907 Hague Convention. "The Convention regulates laws and customs of war. Article 40 of the Convention quite clearly formulates that, in case of the truce violation by one of the parties, the other party has the right to withdraw from the truce before the resumption of hostilities," Reznikov said.
Despite the fact that the implementation of Minsk Agreements was set to be completed by the end of 2015, since all deadlines in the deal relate to 2014 and 2015, there is no other platform for negotiations.
"This is an uncontested platform today, which makes it possible to eventually end hybrid war and bring peace to the occupied Donbas, in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and ultimately come to the final political settlement, that is, local elections in those territories," said Reznikov.
He has added that Ukraine will do everything for the sake of the implementation of Minsk agreements, while realizing that the key task is safe reintegration of the occupied territories.
"All measures and all processes that will take place must pose no threat to Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty, and unitary structure," he added.
At the same time, Reznikov admitted that a ceasefire had already been proclaimed in Donbas many times, and none of them were observed. "Many critics today argue that more than one ceasefire has been declared over the past six years, and they have been neither implemented nor respected. Yes, indeed, this is true. And we're looking very carefully at how the agreements reached at the TCG last week will be respected, and we understand that this is yet another attempt, another chance to make the Minsk agreements work," Reznikov said.
As UNIAN reported earlier, since midnight on July 27, the full and comprehensive ceasefire has been in place along the contact line in the zone of the Joint Forces Operation in Donbas. The latest truce deal was reached on July 22 by the TCG participants (Ukraine, Russia, and OSCE). The parties agreed on a ban on offensive actions and reconnaissance, sniper fire, the use of aircraft, and deployment of heavy weapons in populated areas, etc.
At the same time, on July 27, in Kyiv, activists rallied outside the President's Office against what they say is "capitulation policy" of President Volodymyr Zelensky in Donbas. A "complete ban" on returning fire would make the Army defenseless, while the withdrawal of air reconnaissance units from the JFO zone would make the Army blind, protesters said.
Also, activists pointed at Russia trying to portray itself as an observer over the conflict, while the latest deal forces Ukraine to negotiate with the Russian proxies in Donbas, thus legitimizing the unrecognized entities.