Ukrainian Foreign Minister: Kyiv prepared to ease trade blockade and resume pensions in Donbas

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said in an interview with Evropeyska Pravda that Ukraine is prepared to start paying pensions again in the Russia-occupied Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. According to him, this is part of the “Zelensky formula”, which aims to mentally bring the inhabitants of the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LPR and DPR) back to Ukraine.

“We will resume the payment of pensions. We have resumed payment for the services that we provide, that is, they pay us for water from that side. Now we are preparing to replace the decree on the list of goods that people are authorized to transfer through the contact line with a list of what may not be transferred. This must be done, but in order to do so, certain steps are required, because currently the so-called blockade is in force, introduced by an NSDC ruling, and in order to replace it there needs to be another NSDC ruling,” the minister said.

Prystaiko said that this does not mean a full lifting of the blockade, which cannot happen until the militants return the seized companies back to their rightful owners.

“But there is a blockade of companies, and there are, for example, everyday consumer goods for our citizens. Even from an economic perspective, why can’t we sell our goods there? Let there be ryazhenka (a traditional milk product) on the shelves with the Ukrainian flag, and not the Russian or Belarusian, right? And there are also other elements – the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska, the prisoner exchange etc., all of these are elements of the Zelensky plan, which is now being formulated,” said Prystaiko.

On July 8 at a press conference after the Ukraine-EU summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered to make it easier to pay pensions to pensioners in the LPR and DPR. At the time, Vadym Chernysh, Minister of the Temporarily Occupied Territories, said that Ukrainian pensions could not be paid in the territories until control is returned to the Ukrainian authorities.

However, Oksana Koliada, his successor, told the Mirror Weekly in an interview that Ukraine is considering paying pensions in the occupied territories with the help of international organizations.

Ukraine stopped paying social benefits to citizens in the separatist-controlled territories at the end of 2014. In order to receive pensions, LPR and DPR residents must register as migrants and live in Ukraine-controlled territory.

  Prystaiko, Zelensky, Donbas