Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky believes that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin is aware of the need to put an end to the war in the Donbas.
“I’m certain that he understood me, and understood me very clearly. It seems that in such contact, face to face, you immediately understand who’s in front of you, what kind of person. Regardless of all the intelligence data. It seems to me that he understood me. And he understands that we have to put an end to this war,” said Zelensky in an exclusive interview, fragments of which were published by Interfax-Ukraine on February 11.
Zelensky said that he “gets the feeling” that it will be possible to hold elections in the Donbas in autumn this year, at the same time that local elections are being held in the rest of the country. However, he also considers it possible that the conflict will be “frozen”.
“How likely is it? If we reach as agreement, we will still need about three months, at least, in order to ensure that there, on the ground, is security for everyone – for journalists and for the Central Election Commission, and for all the observers… For some reason I believe that it is possible, for some reason I just get the feeling,” the Ukrainian leader told Interfax-Ukraine.
According to him, a lot will become clear after the Normandy summit slated for April. “If there’s more treading water there, the likelihood of local elections will be decimated,” the Ukrainian president remarked.
Zelensky’s press service reported that, in a phone call with Angela Merkel, the president discussed the implementation of the agreements reached during the Normandy Format summit on December 9 in Paris. The call took place on February 11, 2020. “The federal chancellor expressed concern in connection with the illegal armed groups’ non-compliance with the ceasefire.”
The Ukrainian and German leaders “discussed the matter of determining three additional sections for disengagement of forces and weaponry along the demarcation line in the Donbas, and also expressed hope that progress would be achieved in this area at the next session of the Trilateral Contact Group on February 12 in Minsk,” the Ukrainian Presidential Administration’s website reported.
During the phone call, the leaders also discussed the extension of the personal EU sanctions against former high-ranking Ukrainian officials suspected of embezzling government funds and committing crimes during the Euromaidan.
After lengthy negotiations in the Belarusian capital on February 11-12, 2015, a package of measures was adopted for implementing the Minsk Agreements. The measures include aspects related to security, dealing with humanitarian and political matters, and other obligations.
The document was signed by the members of the Trilateral Contact Group, which consists of representatives from the EU, Russia and Ukraine, as well as the unrecognized self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine.