Kyiv wants to hold local elections in Donbass on March 31, 2021

The creators of the Ukrainian "Joint Steps Plan", which was presented to the Trilateral Contact Group on the Donbas (TKG), propose the demilitarization of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which are under the control of pro-Russian militants, in early 2021 in order to hold local elections on March 31, 2021, reported Interfax-Ukraine. "All armed groups, mercenaries, weapons should be withdrawn from this territory. Illegal armed groups should be dissolved," the head of Ukraine's delegation to the TCG, the country's first president Leonid Kravchuk, told the agency. Ukraine should also regain control of the border with Russia, he stressed.

Kyiv intends to demand full access of international organizations to Ukrainians detained in the Donbas and exchange the detainees on "all for all" basis before December 15 this year. Ukraine will ask the OSCE to increase the number of the organization's Special Monitoring Mission observers by 1,500, Kravchuk added. He expressed hope that Russia, Germany and France would support this proposal.

The first president of Ukraine highlighted the need to define the responsibility for the parties to the conflict through a separate bill. This issue should be solved "by law, in a balanced way, taking into account the situation in the Donbas and the experience of other countries,” Kravchuk said. According to him, "there are criminals, there are people who came there to kill for money. They should be held responsible, and others should live normally and work on their own Ukrainian land."

“A free economic zone will be established in the Donbas until about 2050 to help restore the economy of certain regions of Donetsk and Luhansk,” said the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the TCG. "The estimates show that this period will allow to bring the Donbas region back to normal," Kravchuk explained.

The "Joint Steps Plan" proposed by Ukraine does invalidate the results of the TKG and Normandy format meetings (Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine), Kravchuk said. Ukraine is interested in holding the next summit of the leaders of the "Normandy Four" countries this year. According to Kravchuk, Kyiv came up with this plan to "complement or clarify those issues that have not found a broad, accurate and concrete implementation in previous documents."

In his turn, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stressed that the elections in the militant-held territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions can take place only after Ukraine regains full control of its border with Russia. According to the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, the elections should be held in accordance with Ukrainian law, the standards of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and being monitored by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

Local elections in Ukraine were held on October 25. The voting was also held in the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions which are under the control of the Ukrainian authorities. The Central Electoral Commission decided not to hold elections along the demarcation line and Donbas territories which are not under outside Kyiv's control.

  Donbas, Trilateral Contact Group, Kravchuk, Ukraine, Russia