Contact group for Ukraine: No second round of talks on Friday

Another round of talks on the situation in Ukraine is off, Dzmitry Mironchyk, spokesman for the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Russian news agency TASS.

As it was reported before, the second round of talks was scheduled on Friday, December 26.

The Contact Group met for almost five and a half hours on Wednesday, December 24. Denis Pushilin, a representative of the unrecognised Donetsk People’s Republic, described the Wednesday meeting as ‘preliminary’.

The talks were attended by OSCE envoy for Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini; Ukraine’s former president Leonid Kuchma; Russia’s Ambassador to Kyiv Mikhail Zurabov; Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego, representatives of the unrecognised Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic.

Later on, the heads of the self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, Igor Plotnitsky and Alexander Zakharchenko, said that the Contact Group had reached an agreement on prisoner exchanges at its meeting on December 24.

“For the moment, we have only one agreement: to exchange prisoners according to the ‘225 [separatists] to 150 [Ukrainian soldiers]’ scheme,” Plotnitsky said.

“The negotiations have not ended. They are in progress, but they are grinding on. They might be continuing a day or two. As soon as they come to an end, I will tell you about the decision on prisoners,” Zakharchenko said.

The first meeting of the Contact Group for Ukraine took place in Minsk on September 5.

The Contact Group adopted a memorandum on ceasefire in Donbas at its second meeting on September 20. The document consists of nine points including a ban on using all types of weapons and withdrawal of heavy weapons with a caliber of more than 100 mm to 15 kilometers away from the contact line.

In a bid to implement the Minsk agreements, the sides in conflict announced a “regime of silence” in the area of security operation in Donbas on December 9. Both the authorities in Kyiv and the leaderships of the self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics stressed the need to start withdrawing heavy weapons, exchange prisoners and carry out de-militarization in the region.

All these issues are still on the agenda. The press service of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said when reporting about a telephone conversation held by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France that they had agreed on the need to implement all the points of the Minsk agreements, including a ceasefire, the establishment of a demarcation line fixed in the September 19 Memorandum; the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons and the earliest release of all hostages., following TASS

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