Germany’s Scholz, Putin agree to discuss Donbas ‘special status’ bills in TCG

15 February, 07:46 PM
From Left: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak during the joint press conference in Moscow on Feb.15 (Photo:Sputnik / Sergey Guneev / Kremlin via REUTERS)

From Left: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak during the joint press conference in Moscow on Feb.15 (Photo:Sputnik / Sergey Guneev / Kremlin via REUTERS)

Germany and Russia have agreed to discuss bills on the “special status” for the non-government-controlled parts of the Donbas region in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) for a peace settlement in eastern Ukraine.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the agreement at a joint press briefing with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Russian capital of Moscow on Feb. 15, the day after his visit to Ukraine.

Speaking at a press briefing after his talks with Putin, the German chancellor added that the bills on the constitutional reform in Ukraine, as well as those on the “Steinmeier formula” (a peace plan for eastern Ukraine involving the holding of local elections in Russia-occupied districts) would also be discussed in the TCG.

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“It is so important that everyone contributes to this,” Scholz said. “One contribution is the submission of bills that are needed to discuss how to solve these three major problems that I’ve mentioned, which are connected with special status, with elections, with the ‘Steinmeier formula,’ and, of course, with constitutional issues.”

“All this will be submitted and discussed in a trilateral format between Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE, and other parties involved. We’ve agreed on that,” said Scholz.

The German chancellor also noted the State Duma’s move to recognize the non-government controlled parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts as independent.

On Feb. 15, the State Duma, Russia’s parliament, voted to appeal to President Putin to recognize the self-declared authorities in the Donbas.

“If the parliament passes what was proposed and it becomes a reality, then it will be a violation of the Minsk peace agreements, and it will mean that the process is interrupted, it will be a political disaster,” Scholz said.

He also warned Russia of grave economic and political implications if the Kremlin launches fresh hostilities against Ukraine.

Putin, in turn, commented on the State Duma’s appeal to recognize the self-declared authorities in the non-government-controlled parts of Ukraine’s Donbas, stating that Russia “should do everything to solve the problems of the Donbas.”

The Russian leader added that “the lawmakers are sensitive to voters who sympathize with the residents of the Donbas.”

“We must do everything to solve the problems of the Donbas, but first of all, based on opportunities, as yet not fully utilized, for the implementation of the Minsk agreements,” Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency quoted Putin as saying.

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