On January 17, the first meeting of participants of the Tripartite Contact Group in Minsk was held this year.

“All profile subgroups have begun work at the Minsk site,” the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the DPR reported.

In the subgroup on humanitarian issues, they again tried to resume discussion of issues related to the exchange of prisoners according to the formula “all installed on all established”.

The Vice Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Irina Gerashchenko, said that Kiev would soon agree to exchange 25 Russian citizens convicted in Ukraine for Ukrainians who are in Russian prisons, as well as an exchange in the Donbas.

“In Kiev, at the end of January – beginning of February, on any specific date, they are ready to hand over 25 of their citizens from Ukrainian prisons to the Russian Federation in exchange for Ukrainians in Russian prisons. Also, the Ukrainian authorities are asking for the release of 19 Ukrainians in the LC and the DPR, in exchange for approximately 70 militiamen convicted in Ukraine. From the OSCE coordinators, I would like a more active position, and to be on the side of truth, ”Geraschenko wrote on her page on the social network Facebook.

The Vice Speaker noted that in January, the Ukrainian side had twice appealed to OSCE representatives “with a demand to hold a joint meeting of the TAG and the humanitarian subgroup on one issue: the release of hostages, the transfer of Russians in exchange for political prisoners of the Kremlin.”

In other words, the Ukrainian side proposes an exchange between Kiev and Moscow, thereby forcing everyone to recognize Russia as a party to the conflict, and again wonders why Moscow refuses such an “attractive” offer.

In the subgroup on security, representatives of the republics had many questions to the Ukrainian side about the shelling of employees of the KV “Water of Donbass”. And at the time when negotiations were held in Minsk, the Armed Forces of Ukraine violated the truce, shelling the outskirts of Donetsk and Gorlovka (the post office turned out to be fire) and other settlements.

“The year begins in very difficult conditions. Despite the declared truce, Kiev continues to systematically and grossly violate the cease-fire. In a number of areas of the line of contact, including in the gray zone and in the zones where the separation of forces had previously taken place, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are increasing their concentration of forces and weapons. As a result of the actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the threat to the security of civilians increases, ”said the representative of the Russian Federation in the contact group on Ukraine, Boris Gryzlov, to journalists after the talks.

“The Russian delegation insists on the need for unconditional responsibility for violators of the cease-fire regime. From the side of Ukraine such responsibility is not provided. Despite the OSCE requirements, the Ukrainian side, unlike Lugansk and Donetsk, has never published orders about responsibility for violating the cease-fire regime, ”added Gryzlov.

It was possible to discuss only the issues of mine clearance in Donbass.

“During the meeting held on January 17, 2019 (subgroups on security), general observance of the existing truce, the need to take additional measures to observe the cease-fire regime were discussed, as well as humanitarian demining issues were discussed, during which they condemned the Ukrainian military for minimizing the dam of the Myronivsky reservoir “, – said in a statement the representation of the LC in the Joint Center for the Control and Coordination of the Ceasefire Regime (JSCC).

The political subgroup was to discuss issues relating to the legal framework for the settlement of the special status of Donbass. However, the Ukrainian side refused to discuss the proposed issues. Additional time was even allocated for the discussion, which Ukraine’s representatives also refused.

Coordinator of a political subgroup for Donbass from the OSCE, Pierre Morel, because of this position of Kiev, refused to hold a two-day meeting of the subgroup.

“The proposals of the OSCE coordinator, Pierre Morel, to hold a meeting without a report in the next round of negotiations, in order to clarify the contradictions between the parties, were blocked by representatives of Kiev,” said the representative of the LC in the political subgroup Rodion Miroshnik.

In the economic subgroup, representatives of the republics tried again to raise the issue of agreeing on the mechanism for paying pensions, as well as about Kiev’s obligation to repay debts to employees of the railway and the private enterprise “Water of Donbass”. The meeting was also attended by the head of the International Red Cross mission in Ukraine, Alan Eshliman, who again tried to explain to the Ukrainian side that the implementation of the mechanism for paying pensions with the help of the ICRC does not contradict Ukrainian legislation. To which representatives of Kiev promised to think and voice their decision. Someday.

The only thing that was possible for the subgroup on economic issues was to agree on an international audit of the enterprise “Water of Donbass”.

The next meetings of the TCG and its working subgroups will take place on January 30, 2019.

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