Separation of forces at the demarcation line won't be carried out this week. The Minister of Defense of Ukraine Andrey Zagorodnuk said that Ukrainian units would withdraw only if there won't be any accidents on within a week. With current situation it's difficult to imagine optimistic scenario, although current attacks are not as intensive. If conditions of the "Steinmeier formula" won't be be fulfilled soon, then this may disrupt meeting of the Normandy four.
Many people in Ukraine have been opposing the "Steinmeier formula". Aside from protesting population, the majority of which can hardly imagine what exactly is mentioned in proposals of the German president, and opposition - mainly supporters of Petro Poroshenko and nationalists - this plan is not liked by the high-ranking military officials. Their main argument is that forces will be placed in different directions at a distance of one or two kilometers, and this is not the distance that will become an obstacle to shelling, but withdrawal of units in itself would look like betrayal of local population.
So what exactly is "Steinmeier formula"? Kiev agreed to grant special status to uncontrolled territories in the east of the country if fair elections are held there. It is approved by the western partners of Ukraine. However, in local society the reaction is contradictory. The document on the settlement of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine was agreed on February 11-12, 2015 in Minsk by the leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia - in the format of the "Norman Four". It was signed by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the OSCE and the unrecognized Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics.
The agreement envisages:
- ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the contact line and the exchange of all prisoners and hostages;
- Adoption by Ukraine of a law on the special status of certain regions of Donetsk and Lugansk regions;
- amnesty of parties to the conflict;
- conducting local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and under the supervision of the OSCE;
- the withdrawal of all foreign troops and mercenaries, the disarmament of illegal armed groups;
- transfer of control over the border with Russia to the official structures of Ukraine;
- participation of local authorities in the appointment of judges, the creation of a local "people's militia";
- amending the constitution of Ukraine in the direction of its decentralization.
However, the agreements have not yet been implemented. Positional fights in the east of Ukraine continue, people from both sides perish.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, being the head of the German Foreign Ministry in 2016, put forward his “formula” for fulfilling the Minsk agreements. In particular, it provides for the adoption of an interim law on the special status of Donbass, which will enter into force on the day of the local elections in the region. If the OSCE mission considers the elections to be fair, then the law will enter into force on an ongoing basis. Steinmeier himself recently called his formula a series of steps to simplify the necessary actions that the parties must take to normalize the situation. That is, a kind of "supporting tool."
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, who promised “to stop the war first” during the election campaign, said at a special briefing that under the terms of the agreement a new law would be developed on the special status of the regions, which would enter into force only if the elections were held under Ukrainian law . "And this means that there will be no elections at gunpoint ... and Donbass will no longer be occupied," he said.
However, opponents of Zelensky interpret everything in their own way. So, his predecessor Petro Poroshenko completely called the "Steinmeier formula" "a Russian invention." "Putin tried to push this version, and the Ukrainian side always gave a decisive rebuff, and our German, French and American partners always supported the Ukrainian side," Poroshenko said, stressing that the adoption of the "formula" means weakening and even lifting sanctions from Russia. In the party of Yulia Tymoshenko "Fatherland", the "Steinmeier formula" is called a threat to national security, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.
Despite the fact that the position of the Ukrainian authorities was openly and firmly supported in the West, in particular, according to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, "the long-awaited progress has been made, opening the door for the summit of the leaders of the Norman Four and other stages of the implementation of the Minsk Agreements," in Kiev on the Maidan A series of protests against the "Steinmeier formula" passed through the Independence Square.
The main “weakness” in the “formula” to its opponents is seen in the part that offers the holding of elections and the special status of the DPR and LPR before Kiev fully regains jurisdiction and border control. The former Ukrainian ambassador to the EU, Andrey Veselovsky, however, believes that the adoption of the "Steinmeier formula" does not mean betrayal of national interests. "The elections will be held in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine. Moreover, the legislation for these elections has not yet been registered, and it may turn out to be much tougher and more accurate than the current one. And given this, it may be worth talking not about" betrayal ", but rather about victory," he declared.
Its truth in the DNI and LC. The heads of the self-proclaimed national republics Leonid Pasechnik and Denis Pushilin see in the “formula” an opportunity for the people of Donbass to independently determine their fate.
It turns out that all parties involved in one way or another in the conflict, albeit to varying degrees and with reservations, are interested in the speedy implementation of the "Steinmeier formula." It is enough to mention that Western experts close to the authorities are convinced that, with the slightest progress, Germany and France will begin to consider the lifting of sanctions against Russia ...
But the withdrawal of forces is currently foiled. The date of the meeting of the Norman four, respectively, hung in limbo. And the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing the Ukrainian side of procrastination: "This is fraught with a dangerous escalation of tension on the contact line."