Lavrov wants Minsk deadlines extended into 2016
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says it is clear that deadlines on political reforms in Ukraine under the Minsk agreements need to be extended into 2016, according to RFE/RL.
Lavrov issued the statement after meeting in Berlin on November 6 with the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Ukraine to discuss the next steps toward ending Ukraine’s conflict amid a growing awareness that progress on a Donbas peace plan has been slower than hoped for, RFE/RL reported.
The Minsk pact has sharply deescalated the violence, but the situation in eastern Ukraine remains fragile.
After the November 6 talks in Berlin, Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "We can be glad that the cease-fire regime has been observed to a certain extent."
Read alsoEU's Tusk says Russia does not abide by Minsk deal on UkraineBut he said "some serious challenges" remain, including organizing fair local elections in separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine.
He said the delivery of humanitarian assistance to eastern regions also is vital.
As UNIAN reported earlier, OSCE also voiced concerns over numerous violations of ceasefire in Donbas.
Officials at the Berlin talks acknowledged that on many points, parties to the conflict are lagging behind the timetable set down under the Minsk agreements to end the conflict.
That suggests that the aim of completing all the steps by the end of 2015 is no longer achievable.
Read alsoU.S. concerns about uptick in ceasefire violations in eastern UkraineThe German Foreign Ministry said the withdrawal of heavy weapons from front-line positions in eastern Ukraine was one possible measure that could be considered at the closed-door meeting, with recent progress on withdrawal of small-caliber artillery and mortars serving as a model.
Russia continues to deny that it is sending its troops and weaponry into eastern Ukraine, despite growing evidence to the contrary.