Moscow puts forward conditions for next Normandy-style summit meeting

27 January 2022, 02:03 PM

Deputy Chief-of-Staff for the Russian President, Dmitry Kozak, who represented Russia at advisor-level Normandy Four talks on Jan. 26, has spelled out the Kremlin’s conditions for holding a new, higher-level Normandy-style summit meeting.

The Normandy Four talks between Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany started in 2014, after Russia invaded and occupied the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and fomented an armed conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region that has already killed some 15,000 Ukrainians.

The Jan. 26 talks in Paris, which included Ukrainian Presidential Chief-of-Staff Andriy Yermak, French presidential advisor Emmanuel Bonne, and German diplomat Jens Ploetner, ended with the sides agreeing to continue a previously-established ceasefire in the Donbas and, provisionally, hold a new meeting in two weeks in Berlin.

Video of day

During a press briefing following the talks, Kozak stated that a leader-level summit could only take place once all sides agree on a “legal framework for Donbas’ special status.”

“The next meeting would be used to discuss facilitating local elections in Donbas, in accordance with its (special) status, which would have to be agreed upon beforehand,” said Kozak.

This legal framework would include ironing out the details of any possible autonomy for the currently occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and committing to local elections – a point of contention between Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine has stated that any vote taking place without government control of the territory, and especially control of the Russian-Ukrainian border in the regions, cannot be legitimate, though Russia has thus far objected to meeting Ukrainians requirements in this area.

Kozak believes that a Normandy Format summit meeting has been a non-starter since Sep. 17, 2021, due to “irreconcilable differences in interpreting of the Minsk Agreement (of 2014).”

Moscow claims that Ukraine is in breach of its commitments under the agreements, made during the last summit, and cites that as one of the roadblocks for a new meeting.

For its part, Ukraine has pointed to Russian violations of the ceasefire condition, documented by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Russia’s reluctance to adhere to heavy weaponry withdrawal requirements, Russian refusal to allow for OSCE monitoring of withdrawal from the line of contact, and other unobserved pre-conditions as evidence of Kremlin foot-dragging in implementing Minsk.

The Kremlin also demands that Ukraine engage with Russian proxies in Donbas directly on a range of humanitarian and political issues, which has been a non-starter for Ukrainian negotiators, as Ukraine has refused to recognize Russia’s proxy authorities in the non-government-controlled parts of the Donbas.

However, the first time since December 2019, a joint communique was hammered out during the talks.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Jan. 25 that Kyiv was trying to arrange a Normandy Format summit meeting “as soon as possible.”

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google News

Ukraine Today
Fresh daily newsletter covering the top headlines and developments in Ukraine
Daily at 9am EST
Show more news