Ukraine presented a "Plan of joint steps" with a list of actions necessary for holding elections in the occupied Donbas and establishing peace in the region. The Ukrainian side proposes an end to the conflict at the beginning of 2021 and, most importantly, the return of control over the border with Russia.
We will tell you what the essence of the plan is, what document Ukraine wants to receive after cooperation with the OSCE, and what the parties to the negotiations have already stated.
Kravchuk: Minsk agreements cannot be implemented
The new peace plan emerged after several years of discussions around the implementation of the Minsk agreements. They say, it is actually impossible to fulfill them, but the situation in Donbas must be resolved.
On Sunday, the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG), Leonid Kravchuk, said that the Minsk agreements could not be implemented in the order in which they have existed since 2015.
For six years, much has changed on the territory of ORDLO, and the agreements that were reached in 2015 are outdated, which, according to him, is recognized by other participants in the negotiations.
Kravchuk says that Ukraine's control over the section of the border with Russia in Donbas needs to be established before the elections.
In addition, the international platform for considering issues of resolving the situation in Donbas may change. Kravchuk said that the efficiency of TCG in Minsk is now low.
He personally intends to insist on finding a new site if Kyiv's opinion is ignored.
“We propose concrete steps, and if from the other side, only the preconditions for stopping these steps are sought, then the Minsk process must be closed and other forms of influence must be sought ... In Minsk, we still see continuous accusations from the Ukrainian side that we do everything wrong. I cannot agree with that, "explained Kravchuk.
A compromise is possible taking into account the position on the transfer of control at the border and the withdrawal of illegal armed groups, after which the Rada will adopt a law on the specifics of elections.
The essence of the peace plan
So, on November 5, a new "Plan of Joint Steps" was presented. The plan is a product of the work of a number of state bodies in Ukraine and should be seen as a consolidated official Ukrainian position in the negotiations.
What is proposed to be done:
- End the armed conflict and carry out the complete demilitarization of ORDLO. Armed formations, mercenaries must leave the territory
- The illegal armed groups are to be disbanded in early 2021.
- Ukraine must take control of the border
- The Verkhovna Rada will have to adopt a bill (the text needs to be discussed in the working group on political issues) on responsibility for persons who took part in the events related to the war in Donbas and to prevent punishment for those who are not guilty of crimes.
- By mid-November 2020, to ensure access of international organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, to all detainees.
- Final mutual release of all-for-all detainees (no later than December 15, 2020).
- The OSCE SMM should have access to the entire territory of Ukraine.
- Increase in the size of the OSCE SMM by 1,500 people.
- Holding local elections no later than March 31, 2021 on the territory of ORDLO.
- Rada should adopt a law on the specifics of holding local elections in ORDLO.
- Ukraine will seek the cancellation by Russia of decisions on the simplified procedure for obtaining registration certificates.
- Ukraine proposes to create a free economic zone in Donbas for 30 years.
The head of the delegation explained the creation of a free economic zone by the fact that otherwise it would be impossible to restore the economy in Donbas and bring the destroyed territory back to normal. The free zone should operate somewhere around 2050.
There are already proposals regarding the form of the elections. According to Kravchuk, voting can be carried out according to the majority system.
Then, according to the results of the elections, local authorities are formed, and the state takes responsibility under the condition of normal life in this territory.
What will the document look like
This plan was sent to the TCG coordinator, special representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office, Heidi Grau.
Ukraine is waiting for the OSCE to make possible proposals or amendments, discussions in order to create in the TCG the next document common to all, taking into account the positions of the parties.
"This document will not be Ukrainian, not Russian, not the authorship of ORDLO. And this will be a document of the Trilateral Contact Group, which, at the suggestion of Grau, prepared an instruction to Mr. Pierre Morel - this is the ambassador for political issues in the system of the Minsk agreements, so that he would combine the proposals of all and prepare one the document that we will discuss, "said Kravchuk.
This document must take into account the interests of the inhabitants of the occupied territories.
If an agreement is reached, the roadmap can be signed in the contact group.
"The plan of joint steps", according to Kravchuk, is a product of the work of a number of state bodies of Ukraine, it should be considered as a consolidated official Ukrainian position in the negotiations.
Zelensky: The plan should be considered by the Normandy Four
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the plan realistic because it spelled out specific steps and dates.
The head of state said that it is also important to be considered on November 13 by the Normandy Four (France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia) advisers. Zelensky also said he was not sure if Russia would agree to such a plan.
“First of all, it is important for us that there is general support at the meetings of the Normandy Four. It seems to me important that all four countries understand that we have Normandy, there is Minsk, and we need to move forward. Without this we will never achieve the desired peace in Donbas. It's hard for me to say whether Russia will agree. From the point of view of their official position, they say that they support any steps towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict. And this "action plan" is aimed exactly at this," said the President.
The meeting of the Normandy Quartet advisers will take place via videoconference.
Reaction of the parties
The first people to react to the plan were in Russia. Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that the proposal to disarm all illegal armed groups and return the border under Ukrainian control before the elections is at odds with the Minsk agreements.
Russia is also not going to fulfill the clause on the termination of the issuance of its passports in the occupied Donbas under a simplified procedure, citing the decision by "protecting ethnic Russians in Ukraine." Peskov said that if Ukraine considers those who live in the southeast of the country to be its citizens, then it should provide social needs for these citizens and take care of them.
The Russian Federation also reacted negatively to the meeting of the Normandy Four, since they consider this plan an insufficient reason for the leaders' meeting.
French President Emmanuel Macron considers it necessary to hold a meeting in the Normandy Four format in the near future.
"The head of the French state assured that Ukraine can count on his determination to help end the war," the statement said following a telephone conversation between Zelensky and Macron.
At the same time, Macron praised Ukraine's peace initiatives to resolve the situation in Donbas.
The peace plan for Donbas may cause disputes between Ukraine and Russia, and that is why the OSCE was involved in the process in order to bring the disputes into a single meeting, said Foreign Minister Kuleba.
According to him, the Russian Federation wants to delay the settlement process as much as possible. The Ukrainian side in the Trilateral Contact Group has become more active in order to accelerate this process and set the pace of discussions. The minister added that it is more profitable for Ukraine if Russia discusses the Ukrainian proposals, and does not impose its own.