The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has said that recognizing the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) in eastern Ukraine would be “counterproductive” at the moment. He said this during an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda.
“Recognizing the independence of the DPR and the LPR is counterproductive. It will give the West a reason to stop pressuring Kiev to implement the Minsk II agreements,” TASS quoted Lavrov as saying.
Lavrov also mentioned that Russia has not abandoned the south-east area of Ukraine. “We have not left the south-east of Ukraine. We support it very actively,” he said.
He said that out of the public eye, western countries exert strong pressure on Kiev. “They will not show it to the outside world, but they are very firm in communicating what they require and what is then subsequently achieved in negotiations. It is very important that their requirements are fulfilled,” Lavrov explained.
In April 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin was questioned on the independence issue while on the Vesti Saturday program on the Russia 1 TV channel. When asked about his views regarding the independence of the DPR and the LPR, he said that he “would not like to speak on this point now as whatever I say may be counterproductive”. He added that while pursuing a policy with regard to the DPR and the LPR, Russia will “pay attention to the realities which appear in life”.
The West coordinates the easing of sanctions with the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. One of the key points in the agreements is the local elections of the DPR and the LPR, which will be held in July 2016. According to the Minsk Agreements, the elections have to be held according to Ukrainian legislation. However, the parties involved in this process disagree on a number of issues. These include the voting of Donbas refugees who are now living in Ukraine, as well ensuring the safety of Ukrainian politicians in the DPR and LPR.