Statement by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, December 24, 2015

Захарова (1)

A Contact Group meeting in Minsk



On December 22, the final meeting in 2016 of the Contact Group took place in the capital of Belarus. The group will continue to look for solutions to practical questions on how to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.


There has been progress in the discussion of mine clearing. Specifically, thorough progress continues in the majority of areas that were earlier designated as having priority. A specialised subgroup has agreed on a general approach to security guarantees and coordination of this work, including the registering of sites subject to mine clearing. Generally, the parties agreed to finish the clearing of all the 12 priority sites by the next meeting of the Contact Group scheduled for January 13. The group members have already started identifying the next priority sites.


Unfortunately, due to the position of the Ukrainian side, the briefing by representatives of the Joint Centre on Control and Coordination was sabotaged. The fact is that Eduard Basurin, Deputy Commander of the self-defence forces of the self-proclaimed DPR, was included in the Donetsk delegation and came to Minsk specifically to speak at the briefing. His appearance came as a surprise to the Ukrainian delegation despite the fact that his participation was discussed at the previous meeting of the Contact Group a week before the final meeting in this format.


All this is happening under rather difficult circumstances at the line of contact, when the future of the truce depends on the level of trust between both sides’ military personnel, making the situation more and more fragile due to increasingly frequent provocations. In this context, the appeal by Martin Sajdik, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, for an immediate ceasefire starting December 23 and continuing through the entire holiday season was timely. We believe that the silence in Donbass must extend beyond Christmas and New Year. This is a goal that we must achieve.


In his statement, Mr Sajdik also covered the continued work of the Contact Group in 2016, expressed his dedication to strict compliance with the Package of Measures and supported the further active participation of Donetsk and Lugansk representatives in the Minsk process.


On our part, we believe it is necessary to ensure the continuation of consistent efforts to carry out the February 12, 2015 Package of Measures in its entirety and that it is thoroughly based on  direct dialogue between Kiev and Donbass as a key prerequisite for a comprehensive and long-term resolution of the Ukrainian crisis.