No talks with Russian proxy forces in non-government-controlled areas of the Donbas – Yermak
Ukraine is not planning any direct talks with Russian proxy forces, the chief-of-staff of Ukraine’s Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, wrote on Jan. 26 in a post on his Facebook page.
Earlier, German media outlets reported that one of the objectives of an upcoming Normandy format meeting in Paris, set for Jan. 26, was to set the date for talks between Ukraine and Russian proxy forces on “a special status” for the non-government-controlled territories in mainland Ukraine.
“People spreading this fake news should go ahead and draw red lines on their foreheads,” the chief-of-staff wrote, referring to perennial rumors that Ukraine would negotiate with the Russian proxy puppet states directly - something that Ukraine has declined to do, given the fictional nature of the puppet authorities.
“Ukraine’s stance has been voiced previously on a number of occasions and it remains unchanged,” Yermak added. “As it would be against the interests of Ukraine, there have never been and there will never be any direct talks with (Russian proxy forces).”
Yermak reiterated that only the head of state was entitled to approve any documents under the Normandy formula, saying that any other actions could only be consultations.
Yermak also stated that the agenda for the upcoming Normandy format advisor-level meeting in Paris would include a complete ceasefire in the Donbas, humanitarian issues, the operation of checkpoints, and the future efforts of the Normandy format diplomatic track.
The Normandy format is a four-party discussion forum involving Ukraine, France, Germany, and Russia, and was created as a way to negotiate an end to the eight-year conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas territory.
On Dec. 15, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and his French and German counterparts Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz, met in Brussels to discuss the war in the Donbas and Normandy format peace talks.
Macron and Scholz have said they want to revive the talks, though Russia has been hesitant to engage.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has accused Russia of coming up with unrealistic demands for Germany, France and Ukraine, in order to disrupt the Normandy format diplomatic track, noting that Russia has continued to stall a new round of talks by various means – including by blaming Ukraine for the delay and alleging that Ukraine is violating the Minsk Agreements, a peace plan signed by both Russia and Ukraine.
Ukraine, Germany and France agreed on Jan. 11 to engaged at an advisor level discussions to lay the groundwork for the talks between the national leaders. According to the Kremlin, “there was no understanding of a specific timeline for the meetings.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Jan. 25 said Ukraine was working to organize Normandy format leader-level talks as soon as possible.
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