Ukrainian Foreign Minister: Russia reluctant to meet in Normandy Format

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko believes that the only reason there has not yet been a Normandy Format summit is that Russia is unwilling.

“Feeling that the pressure is intensifying, that Ukraine is making real steps, Russia is forced to look for more and more new reasons not to hold this meeting. I currently don’t see any interest in the meeting, at least, this meeting is being postponed further and further. At first we heard Putin’s technical inability to come, although the date was proposed by the French. Now three leaders are ready, a new set of dates is being suggested, but we have not heard any readiness from Russia,” the minister said in a broadcast of ICTV on the evening of October 7.

Prystaiko believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin is actually quite happy with the current situation in the Donbas.

“It’s one and a half or two billion that he spends to keep us all tethered to him, as he does in Transnistria, Abkhazia and Ossetia, and it seems to me he’s happy with them,” the minister remarked.

France and Germany, Prystaiko added, are probably motivated by a desire to put an end to the war as soon as possible and go back to “business as usual”.

“If, among all these approaches, we find a midpoint where our interests could coincide, that would be the best thing we could take out of a meeting of four people who lead four countries,” the minister said.

Last week Russia said that before a Normandy Format summit can be held another condition must be met: there must be a disengagement of forces in Petrovske and Zolote.

Ukraine’s President said that the final condition for the summit was written consent to the Steinmeier Formula. The leaders of the Normandy Four last met in autumn 2016 in Berlin.

At a press conference in Kyiv on October 1, President Zelensky said that Ukraine had agreed to the text of the Steinmeier Formula at the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk.

He emphasized that elections could only take place in the occupied Donbas territories if Kyiv is given full control of the parts of the Russian border in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that are currently not under its control.

On September 12, Zelensky said that Kyiv would insist on a Normandy Format session in September. He said that the leaders of the four represented countries would discuss the “Steinmeier Formula and all aspects of the Minsk Agreements”.

The formula was proposed by former German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. He said that the Donbas should be given a “special status” on the day that elections are held in the occupied territories, with the simultaneous withdrawal of illegal armed groups.

  Prystaiko, Normandy Format, Russia

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