If Ukraine fails to hold elections in the Russian-occupied territories of the Donbas by June, the West threatens to remove EU sanctions against Russia.
Kyiv has been given a new “deadline”: pass a law governing elections in the occupied territories of the Donbas in the next few weeks and hold elections no later than June, reports Serhiy Rakhmanin in the online publication DT.UA, citing inside sources.
“According to our sources, work on the legislation for holding elections in ORDLO (occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk — Ed.) is going on. And, as can be expected, it is taking place outside of the ‘Minsk process’ and is not being advertised. President Poroshenko has appointed Ruslan Kniazevych, his representative in the Verkhovna Rada, to oversee the preparation of the document,” Rakhmanin writes.
According to Rakhmanin, a new elections law is being developed in coordination with representatives from Germany and France.
“The developers (of the law) have met at least twice — in Berlin and Kyiv. As far as can be ascertained, Kyiv is convinced that Moscow is not being informed of its plans,” Rakhmanin writes. “However, according to our data, Berlin and Paris not only are sharing all necessary information with the Kremlin, but they are consulting with Russian representatives regarding certain provisions of the law without notifying the Ukrainian side. Our Western partners are much less concerned about the best interests of Ukraine than in the fact that the elections take place. This would allow them to get rid of the (Ukrainian) problem,” he concludes.
According to DT.UA, a source close to Poroshenko says that the Ukrainian government has been given another deadline since Kyiv had not carried out the previous agreement to pass a new elections law for the occupied territories in December 2015 and hold the elections in March 2016. The new terms the West has given Poroshenko call for the elections law to be passed no later than March, and elections to be held no later than June. Otherwise, Kyiv is threatened with the lifting of EU sanctions against Russia — either in June or December. This is supposed to punish Kyiv for not implementing the Minsk agreements. The fact that Moscow is not complying with them either is of no particular concern to Europe since, in their view, Ukraine is the primary violator.”
“The president gambled that the main thing was to gain time and then he would find some solution. But he hasn’t found it. Those close to the president are judging that he has no clear Plan B regarding the Donbas. And that Plan A has been forced on him,” Rakhmanin concludes.
As previously reported, elections in the occupied territories and their recognition by Kyiv are widely seen as the main instrument of Russia’s “dignified withdrawal from the war in the Donbas” that would allow Putin to simultaneously retain control over the occupied territories and achieve the lifting of sanctions.