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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 681
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Leaders Agree To Extend Minsk Deadline 'Into 2016'
4 years
Ukrainian Military Claims DNR Leader Zakharchenko Visited Kominternovo

The Ukrainian, Russian, French and German leaders, known as the Normandy Quartet, have agreed today to extended the deadline for fulfilment of the Minsk agreements into next year.

The agreement was reached during a telephone conversation between Presidents Petro Poroshenko, Vladimir Putin, François Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The original deadline, set during the second round of Minsk talks in February this year, was to be December 31. The extension of the deadline was widely expected given that several key parts of the Minsk agreement, not least adherence to a ceasefire, appear far from realisation.

Notably, none of the statements released by the leaders' offices make mention of any new deadline beyond the extension "into 2016."

The reduction of urgency does little to assuage worries the war, which still sees dozens of daily attacks along the front line, will be allowed to linger as a "frozen conflict," akin to that seen in Nagorno-Karabakh.

All of the statements released stressed the importance of holding legitimate local elections in separatist-held territories at the end of January next year, with oversight from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

President Poroshenko went further in highlighting the need for the elections to be held in accordance with Ukrainian law, as stipulated in the Minsk agreements, and also once again proposed the introduction of peacekeepers.

From the Ukrainian Presidential Administration's press release: 

In this context, the President emphasized the need for abolishing fake “elections” scheduled by pro-Russian militants. Once again, he noted that the elections in Donbas should be held with participation of Ukrainian parties, media, Central Election Commission, international observers and in full compliance with the OSCE/ODIHR standards.

With a view to maintain order and security of the electoral process, the Ukrainian President offered to deploy the EU’s special peacekeeping mission in the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Union. 

None of the other statements discussed peacekeepers.

Poroshenko also called for the release of "all Ukrainian hostages, including those illegally kept in Russia, particularly Nadiya Savchenko and Oleh Sentsov."

The next meeting of the foreign ministers of the Normandy Quartet will take place in late January or early February. The French and German statements say that the progress of Minsk implementation will be discussed at this meeting.

-- Pierre Vaux