Contact group on settling crisis in eastern Ukraine to meet before July 5

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The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France have supported the idea of holding a meeting of the trilateral contact group on settling the crisis in eastern Ukraine before July 5 in order to secure reconciliation and a ceasefire in that part of the country, Interfax reports.

“The ministers call for the contact group to resume its work no later than July 5 in order to achieve an unconditional, mutually agreed and sustainable ceasefire,” according to a statement issued after the ministers’ meeting in Berlin on Wednesday. A copy of the document has been made available to Interfax.

Moreover, ministers also agreed that this ceasefire should be supervised by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. “In this context, the ministers agreed to implement all necessary measures and take advantage of the influence they have over the sides concerned in order to achieve this goal,” the statement says.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed Russia is ready to accept Ukrainian border guards and the OSCE monitors stationed on its border with Ukraine on Wednesday, Interfax reports.

 “Of course, all this would be in effect for the ceasefire period. All this will become possible only after a ceasefire is agreed and declared,” said Lavrov at a news conference the wake of his meeting with French, German and Ukrainian foreign ministers in Berlin. He also expressed gratitude to his counterparts for supporting Russia in its initiative.

“As soon as a ceasefire is declared, we will submit a draft resolution to the OSCE’s Permanent Council, which will authorize such a placement, such a dispatch of monitors to border crossing points, and we are grateful to our colleagues at today’s meeting for their promise to vigorously support such a decision of the OSCE Permanent Council,” Lavrov said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry expects to Kiev take into account the results of the meeting between the Russian, French, German and Ukrainian foreign ministers and reinstate ceasefire in the east of Ukraine.

“We expect that the positive results of the four-sided meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine in Berlin on July 2, which ended with the adoption of a joint declaration, will prompt Ukraine to immediately reinstate a ceasefire,” Interfax cites a commentary published on the Foreign Ministry website on Tuesday.

Russia’s decision to invite OSCE monitors and Ukrainian border guards to its checkpoints at the border with Ukraine is considered a big step towards stabilizing the situation in the region, says Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Russia Vygaudas Usackas, adding that the this idea is expected to be put into practice.

“We view this positively. We know that there is a list of concrete steps the implementation of which would lead to stabilization in Ukraine,” Usackas said on Thursday at press conference dedicated to the start of Italy’s presidency of the Council of the EU.

“What is important is that these intentions should be put into practice on the ground and the peace plan presented by Petr Poroshenko should be observed and implemented by all,” he noted.

Truce in eastern Ukraine shouldn’t imply ‘disarm or be destroyed’ – Lavrov

Russia considers it damaging that the Ukrainian truce is being used for regrouping forces and disarming or killing the militia. “If a truce is used solely for re-grouping the troops of either side and to implement those parts of the Ukrainian president’s plan with respect to which we expressed serious doubts, namely telling the militia to either disarm or be destroyed – I categorically reject that path and consider it harmful to the neighboring fraternal country,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Moscow hopes external actors will persuade Kiev to sit at the negotiating table with militiamen, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“We are very hopeful that relevant signals will be also be sent to the Ukrainian government, given the close ties between other groups of external actors and the authorities in Kiev,” he told a press conference after talks with his counterparts from Germany, France and Ukraine in Berlin on Wednesday.

“We believe that everyone here must act in unison and urge all those who now oppose one another in Ukraine to start a dialogue,” the minister added.

At the same Lavrov noted that Moscow “has certain possibilities to be able to influence those who protect their houses, their relatives, their families, their soil and want their rights be recognized and respected in the Ukrainian state”.

“We have many times called, and continue to call, on all those involved in the standoff to get down to the negotiating table and solve issues through dialog. We do this publically. We call once again, in public, for this in the declaration that we agreed on together with our Ukrainian, German and French counterparts,” he said.

“By the way representatives of the militia, in particular [prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic] Mr. Borodai has stated publically today that in response to these calls on behalf of Russia and the OSCE they are ready for consultations on how to agree on peace terms,” Lavrov added.

Members of the OSCE mission in Ukraine must monitor compliance with the new truce in the country’s southeast after an agreement was reached to that effect, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“Under the document, the ceasefire, once agreed upon, will be monitored by the OSCE mission which is already operating in Ukraine,” Lavrov said after a meeting with his German, French and Ukrainian counterparts in Berlin on Wednesday.

“We hope this mission will monitor compliance with the ceasefire and register breaches by both sides, because until now, the previous declaration of a ceasefire has been effected by breaches on both sides,” the minister added.

Russian, German, French and Ukrainian foreign ministers, at a meeting on Wednesday, called for setting up a contact group as soon as possible to agree terms for a new ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“We were able today to agree a declaration, thereby fulfilling a task from our leaders, and we can report that this task has been carried out. The main point of that document is the need to urgently agree terms for a sustained, lasting truce,” Lavrov told reporters after the meeting, held in Berlin.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday reaffirmed that Russia is willing to have Ukrainian border guards and monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe posted on its border with Ukraine.

“Of course, all this would be in effect for the ceasefire period. All this will become possible only after a ceasefire is agreed and declared,” Lavrov stated. He thanked the other three ministers for supporting the Russian initiative.

“We propose doing so via the earliest possible convocation of a contact group, which, we hope, will meet within days and agree the terms for a truce that will satisfy all sides,” he said.

Sergei Lavrov is convinced that a ceasefire in Ukraine can only be negotiated under the terms of a Contact Group.

“It is clear that when we say that a ceasefire needs negotiating, this can only be done in a format that represents both sides in the conflict and I am very hopeful it will help achieve the result that we all want, to which we are all working,” Lavrov said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after the four-party ministerial meeting in Berlin on Wednesday that the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia have managed to work out a number of measures to achieve a truce in east Ukraine.

“At today’s talks the parties managed to agree a package of measures which cumulatively will lead to a reliable mutual truce in east Ukraine,” the German minister said.

The foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine backed the idea of sending Ukrainian border guards and OSCE observers to Russian checkpoints, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, Interfax reports.

The contact group on Ukraine will continue negotiations during this week, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Wednesday. The ministers who have assembled here have backed the decision to return to the contact group’s negotiations which should be held before July 5, he said.

Lavrov to meet with Germany, France, Ukraine’s FMs in Berlin

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov is expected to take part in a meeting Wednesday with the Foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Ukraine. The talks are to take place in Berlin and are aimed to boost efforts towards settling the Ukrainian crisis.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry official said on Tuesday night that Lavrov, during a telephone conversation with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, had welcomed the idea of meeting in such a format:

“In furtherance of efforts to bring the situation back to the negotiating channel, the proposal made by Frank-Walter Steinmeier to hold a meeting in Berlin on July 2 of the Foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine in Berlin was supported with due regard for the understandings reached during their teleconference on June 30 on instructions of the leaders of the four states.”

Lavrov and Steinmeier discussed the Ukrainian situation in the scope of Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s decision not to extend the ceasefire, the Ministry official pointed out.

“Both Ministers expressed concern in view of the intensification of combat actions in Ukraine’s southeast, called for putting an end to the bloodshed, and declared in favour of an urgent resumption of the activities of the Contac Group with a view to fixing by the sides of matters regarding cessation of fire and the creation of conditions for the start of talks,” the official emphasized.

On Monday, Lavrov conveyed the proposal made by Russian President Vladimir Putin to post officials of Ukraine’s Border Service and OSCE observers at Ukraine’s border-crossing stations for joint monitoring and clearance of any possible suspicions.

Lavrov expressed hope that the Russian president’s initiative would enable those, on whom this depends, to ensure the decision on the ceasefire extension.

Resolving Ukraine’s political problems through killing citizens unacceptable in civilized society – Moscow

Moscow has demanded that Kiev stop shelling cities and villages in southeastern Ukraine and reinstate a ceasefire. “We are once again strongly demanding that the Ukrainian authorities, if they are still able to sensibly assess the consequences of their criminal policy, stop shelling peaceful cities and villages in their own country and reinstate a real ceasefire so as to spare people’s lives,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a commentary available on its website on Wednesday.

“Resolving Ukraine’s political problems through physically exterminating citizens of their own country hardly meets the standards of civilized European society, which Kiev is aspiring to today,” it said.

The Foreign Ministry also condemned the Ukrainian leadership’s claims on a “humane” application of the armed forces in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as “hypocritical.”

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