Head of Ukrainian President's Office Andriy Yermak has commented on the idea of the "special status" for the entire Donbas in eastern Ukraine (Luhansk and Donetsk regions) and general pardon for armed formations.
He said the idea voiced by First Deputy Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on Donbas settlement Vitold Fokin does not reflect Ukraine's official stance, as reported by the president's press service.
According to Yermak, most of the positions expressed by Fokin, in fact, reflect the provisions of the first and second Minsk agreements.
"Let's separate the personal stance from that of the delegation. Vitold Fokin has just joined the negotiation process and is studying the topic. And today the Ukrainian side is trying to mitigate some odious and ambiguous formulations that the previous government agreed to, or apply exclusively within Ukraine's national interests," Yermak said.
Read alsoMP slams Ukraine's first PM over "Donbas pardon" statementAccording to the head of the President's Office, the amnesty cannot apply to persons who committed war crimes, took hostages, tortured and killed prisoners, were engaged in human trafficking, participated in the financing of terrorism, and committed some other serious crimes.
Yermak also said the Minsk agreements and the proposals of the Ukrainian delegation to finalize the bill on the peculiarities of local government in occupied Donbas do not provide for a special status for the entire territory of Donbas, i.e. it is only about the temporarily occupied areas.
"There are clear red lines that have been repeatedly voiced by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Therefore, the position of the Ukrainian delegation in the TCG fully meets Ukraine's national interests," he added.
Fokin's infamous statement: background
- Fokin has recently said he is in favor of granting special status to the entire Donetsk and Luhansk regions, not just their occupied parts.
- The official pointed his stance on the special status, answering the question about the idea of pardon to Russian-backed armed formations.
- According to Fokin, many crimes have been committed "on both sides" and they must be investigated, while perpetrators must be punished.
- Fokin also noted that he was ready to travel to the occupied part of Donbas to negotiate with the enemy if the president or parliament orders so.
- He says the move is also supported by Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the TCG Leonid Kravchuk.
- Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Fokin's statement was of provocative nature and not in line with Ukraine's national interests.