The US is inciting Kiev to end the crisis in eastern Ukraine by force, said the Russian foreign minister citing US support of the recent Ukrainian law on the special self-governing status of Donbass, which Moscow says undermines the Minsk-2 deal.
“If Washington welcomes the action, which undermines the Minsk agreements, then we can only conclude that Washington is inciting Kiev to resolve the issue by military means,” said Lavrov at a media conference in Moscow on Thursday.
His comments were a reference to the telephone conversation between US Vice-President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday, during which Biden welcomed the decision by the Ukrainian parliament to give special status to Donbass.
On March 17, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament), passed a law granting the self-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk special self-rule status, but Moscow said the law violated the peace agreement.
Self-rule for Donbass was one of the key conditions of the Minsk agreements, but the law passed by the Rada postpones the introduction of the new status until the regions hold new elections under Ukrainian laws. Until then the Ukrainian MPs said that the two republics will be recognized as ‘temporary occupied territories’ and voted that the status should remain until the Ukrainian military fully restores control. The leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics said these decisions were not agreed with them.
Lavrov said: “The Ukrainian leadership…basically terminated their commitments to engage in direct dialogue and negotiate with south-eastern Ukraine, including on the issue of elections, on the implementation of the law on the special status…”
Speaking on these matters Lavrov urged the mediators of the Minsk-2 deal – France and Germany – who invested their authority in the document, to react to Kiev’s actions.
The Russian foreign minister also called for another round of negotiations in the Normandy Four format (Kiev, Moscow, Berlin, Paris) on the settlement of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.He said it is necessary to prevent “further deterioration of the situation.”
“I believe it’s high time for the Normandy Four talks,” Lavrov said. “I turned to my colleagues – the foreign ministers of Germany and France – with a proposal to take urgent steps to prevent the situation from taking a nosedive.”
The latest Ukraine peace deal was brokered in the Belarusian capital on February 12 by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine. It was agreed that the sides in the conflict pull back heavy weapons from the frontline and establish a security zone separating them.
The agreement required political reform in Ukraine to ensure decentralization and a special status for its rebellious regions. According to the deal, the government’s control over the borders between the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions would be fully restored a day after municipal elections, to be held in the regions as part of far-reaching constitutional reform.
The document required Ukraine to adopt legislation that would provide permanent privileges to the Lugansk and Donetsk Regions. These would include the right to use Russian as an official language and trans-border ties with Russia, as well as the authority of local governments to appoint local prosecutors and judges. Among other points, the agreement also included direct talks between Kiev and representatives of the republics.