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The results of the Milan meetings: ‘certain progress’ on Donbas and gas

The results of the Milan meetings: ‘certain progress’ on Donbas and gas
Article by: Rostyslav Khotyn
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
The Ukraine-Russia talks at the highest level in Milan, with the involvement of European and EU leaders yielded certain progress, however they did not manage to achieve total compromise in key issues. It was agreed that the Minsk agreements regarding the ceasefire in Donbas have to be executed. Presidents Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin also discussed the local elections in Donbas and the gas problem, which also touches on the EU.

The talks on the topic of Ukraine progressed from the broader circle in the morning to a narrower one during lunch and an even narrower one in the evening. First, Poroshenko and Putin, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, the host of the summit Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and EU representatives José Manuel Barrosso, Herman Van Rompuy and Federica Mogerini.

According to President Petro Poroshenko, all the participants of the meeting firmly stand for the Minsk memorandum and concentrate on executing all of its points. However, the European leaders did not have any doubts either that the Minsk agreements are not being fully adhered to because of Russia.

The Minsk agreements

According to the president of the EU Council Herman Van Rompuy, President Putin has made it clear that “he does not want the creation of yet another Transnistria and that Donbas is an integral part of Ukraine.”

“Vladimir Putin said very clearly that he does not want a frozen conflict, he does not want a divided Ukraine. But if this is the case, then Russia should employ means to execute what has been agreed before: remove the Russian army from Ukraine, remove heavy weaponry from Ukraine, and respect all the agreements,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron.

As to the execution of the Minsk agreements, the main point is de-escalation and a ceasefire, as even on the day of the Milan meetings, the mercenaries attacked Donetsk airport twice.

There is also talk of the necessity to create a buffer 30-kilometer zone; remove heavy weaponry; exchange hostages; free the Ukrainian citizens who are being held illegally in Russia, as well as ensure full-fledged work for the OSCE observer mission in the East of Ukraine, by including 500 people in it at this stage, providing it with drones to control the Ukraine-Russia border, in particular.

Elections according to the Ukrainian scenario and schedule

It was emphasized in Milan that the local elections in Donbas on the territories which are under the control of armed separatists have to happen on December 7, as is prescribed in the peace plan and the Law on the special order of the local government in individual districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and not on November 2 or 9, as ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’ gangs want.

Cameron said that Russia should only acknowledge the elections that went according to the Ukrainian legislation and schedule.

“Certain progress was made, but the main issue is the continued violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. In this context the main issue is whether we will be able to have elections which accord with Ukrainian legislation in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts,” stated German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

On gas before the winter

The third block in Milan was the discussion of gas issues. The most painful issue here is the new contract between Ukraine and Russia, new prices for it, the regulation of the problem of Ukraine’s debt for gas and the covering of the gas balance which Kyiv lacks before the winter (experts are talking about 5-6 billion cubic meters of gas).

“We have achieved certain progress in the gas issue. We have agreed on the main parameters of the contract and we continue talks regarding the resources to covered the monetary deficit needed to finance the contract,” President Poroshenko said in Milan.

French President Francois Holland stated on Friday that Ukraine and Russia are close to reaching a consensus on the agreement for gas transit to Europe.

According to the French leader, at the moment the agreement is “within an arm’s reach.” Putin also talked about “certain progress.”

As is expected, the gas issue will be discussed on October 21 by Ukraine, the EU and Russia. EU Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger is hoping for a breakthrough at these meetings.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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