Minsk Contact Group meeting on Ukraine canceled; Poroshenko, Merkel want Normandy format

A Contact Group meeting on the Ukrainian crisis in Minsk has been called off, the press service of the Ukrainian Embassy in Belarus said.

“No, there will be no talks today,” a press service employee told RIA Novosti.

The Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) meeting on Ukrainian crisis, including Russian Ambassador in Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma representing Kyiv, and OSCE envoy to Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini, with negotiators from the unrecognised Donetsk and Luhansk republics in Belarusian capital Minsk was scheduled for January 16.

Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego, the representatives of the DNR and the LNR respectively, confirmed their participation on Thursday. Today they are leaving Minsk.

“Until the last moment we have waited for anybody to come to the meeting, we had no ground for questioning the OSCE invitation, but but nothing has happened,” Deinego told Russian news agency TASS.

According to Denis Pushilin, there has not been any movement to peace in Donbas. He said he was not aware of the date of holding another meeting of the Group and stressed next time they would talk only to the representatives of Kyiv who were ‘entitled to take decisions’.

The meeting has been torpedoed because Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, leader of the self-proclaimed republics, failed to arrive, a source close to the Contact Group told Interfax-Ukraine. According to the source, holding the meeting was possible only on condition of the participation of signers of the Minsk agreements, which was pointed out in the invitation.

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on ceasefire and exchange of prisoners during OSCE-mediated talks on September 5 in the Belarusian capital. The ceasefire took effect the same day but de facto it has repeatedly been violated.

Following the bus blast at the checkpoint near Ukraine’s town of Volnovakha, the Foreign Ministry of Belarus urged the sides to resume the work of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, news agency BelTA reported Thursday.  

On January, 13 a passenger bus was attacked at the checkpoint near Volnovakha, Donetsk region. 12 people were killed and 18 were injured. The authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic deny responsibility for the deaths. 

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko declared 15 January the day of mourning for the victims of the Volnovakha attack.

Meanwhile, Petro Poroshenko and German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a prompt meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group supporting peace in eastern Ukraine in a telephone conversation on Friday.

“Poroshenko and Merkel agreed with the need for the soonest meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group and a subsequent meeting of foreign ministers in the “Normandy format” for the sake of further negotiations at summit level,” the press service reported.


See also