WHAT I’M TELLING FOREIGN OFFICE ON UKRAINE (Ambassador Yakovenko, for Russia Today)
Russia is actively working with its European partners on the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, including within the Normandy format. We stress for the urgent need of starting an inclusive dialogue in Ukraine to discuss in detail and coordinate the constitutional system of Ukraine as a stable and safe country for all Ukrainian citizens without exceptions.
Only the people of Ukraine without any foreign interference must determine their future. Direct contact between Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics are of fundamental importance in this context. All other formats involving external players, including the Normandy and the OSCE activities, must be aimed at assisting a direct and sustainable dialogue on issues that need to be resolved to settle the crisis.
Russia has been seeking strict compliance by all Ukrainian parties with the provisions of the Minsk agreements. Despite all existing agreements Kiev has been building up its military presence in the South-East. Increased militarization, announcements of “new waves” of mobilisation, calls for “taking revenge” for the situation “on the ground”, that had taken shape on the eve of the conclusion of the Minsk agreements in September, are among developments that testify to this.
It is vital to stop immediately preparations for another attempt to quell the resistance by force and abandon the political resolution of problems that resulted from the coup in Ukraine on 22 February last year. However, it is even more important to stop bombing and shelling of Donetsk and other big cities in the region with heavy artillery, trying to take control of one town or another.
Next, it is essential to take steps to guarantee the non-resumption of hostilities and strict implementation by all sides to the conflict of a "silence regime" and compliance with the agreements on withdrawal of heavy artillery from the contact line. Despite the differences over one of its sections, President Vladimir Putin suggested avoiding further disputes about the line of contact for now and withdrawal of heavy weapons from the contact line in accordance with the coordinates which the Ukrainian side insists upon.
We have used our influence on Donetsk and Lugansk leadership and they accept such an option in the spirit of goodwill in order to avoid further civilian casualties. So this is precisely what we should work on now. Kiev’s attempts to escalate the conflict with the aim to settle it by military force, apparent provocations, including the shooting of the bus near Volnovakha, could only exacerbate the deep domestic crisis in Ukraine.
Unfortunately, not all of our partners listen to our arguments. But we will continue to deliver our position on the Ukrainian issue to them.