Recently, Ukrainian experts spoke about the fact that Kiev has the potential to extract maximum concessions from Moscow in matters of a resolution of the armed conflict in Donbas. They are convinced that the situation is getting out of Moscow's control, as evidenced by the activation of the representative of the Russian Federation in the Contact Group for resolving the situation in Ukraine, Boris Gryzlov, and the meeting of the Russian president’s aide Vladislav Surkov and the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland. During the meeting they put forward ideas on a number of sensitive issues, which can be discussed by the Contact Group in the 'Normandy format', including constitutional reform in Ukraine, security and electoral issues.
However, the Russian Foreign Ministry claimed that they want to make sure that everything set out in the Minsk Agreements, exactly in the order indicated there, is to be implemented. It is a process involving diplomatic negotiations, searches for compromises and mutual solutions.
The director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Maria Zakharova, said that the main objective is the possibility of Donbas and Kiev coexisting with each other within a single state on democratic principles, to ensure that people in Donetsk and Lugansk don't feel like outcasts in their country anymore and have all the rights as citizens of their country. They should not fear for their future, shudder from news about new officials in Kiev, who can act in a different way, or, for example, lobby some forceful solutions. They must be full citizens of their country and enjoy all the features of a democratic society. This is the main goal, which can be implemented through the Minsk Agreements.
"We are working with our colleagues in the 'Normandy Quartet', with those countries and parties, which have resources of influence on Kiev and are ready to contribute to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. It is only about the implementation of the Minsk agreements. This is the key to that door, which leads to the long-term and mutual co-existence of people within one state on an equal basis," Zakharova said.
Meanwhile, she said that the situation in the south-east of Ukraine still remains difficult. Attacks are often recorded from different kinds of weapons, including those which should be withdrawn. As a result, there are civilian casualties and the destruction of residential areas. It is tragic that harm is done to the civilian population, but these problems are especially acute in winter. "Unfortunately, the call voiced on January 13th for the creation of the next contact group to observe the ceasefire in full has not been realized. All of this contributes to the growth of tensions and it is difficult to move to other areas of a settlement. One of the important tasks at this stage is an unconditional cease-fire by all the armed groups on both sides of the contact line and ensuring the strict implementation of the agreements on the withdrawal of weapons," Zakharova concluded.