Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pins his hopes on the Normandy format of peace talks between Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany, saying it is "the beginning of Donbas' freedom."
"Normandy is the starting point for bringing civilization back to that long-suffering territory of ours – when laws work, when human rights are respected. Normandy is the beginning of Donbas' freedom. And this is the beginning of a long journey. The next stop is Berlin, where we will formalize the intermediate successes of the armistice and move on. To finally have the warfare case over. And we will do everything to make it happen. And we will do it transparently, openly. And if something goes wrong, then everyone will see what has gone wrong and why. And who is to blame," Zelensky said on his Telegram channel on August 7.
"It is clear that today Donbas is mainly about war. Unfortunately, it is still going on at our home. But if we don't make efforts, it will not disappear. The Normandy format has given huge impetus to the development of the logistics of peace. Minsk [talks] hammer out the rules, providing an opportunity to discuss extremely difficult issues. And eleven days of the ceasefire prove that if everything is done in the right and persistent way, there will definitely be a chance. We've got it already," the president said.
Zelensky also elaborated on his recent visit to the east of Ukraine.
For two days' trip to Donbas, "I listened a lot, asked uneasy questions, looked into the eyes of different people," he said.
"This is not my first trip to the Joint Forces Operation zone. And every time I get convinced that we have a professional and strong army, and we already have a super team of negotiators who will be able to build a sustainable peace on our terms," he said.
According to him, these were also two days of frank conversations with soldiers on the front line, two days of active monitoring of the situation and work in the situation rooms, as well as scheduled visits to the front line.
"Over the two days, I traveled 100 kilometers along the contact line. If you want to check the ceasefire regime – go and control it yourself. I first of all believe the servicemen on the front line, who could compare the situation: what was the war like last year, what was it in the first half of 2020, what it is now... Despite minor provocations, we can say that we are able to fulfill our part of the extremely complex agreements. It is clear that our military perfectly and professionally assess all possible risks. But it is necessary that the other side could finally realize the value of peace and also observe the ceasefire with diligence," he said.
Yet, he noted, difficult negotiations lie ahead.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on July 31 that the next meeting of Normandy Four leaders (Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia) in Berlin depends on the Russian Federation.