Volker believes the Minsk agreements are vital as they are a tool under which Russia reaffirms its commitment to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The reintegration of the Donbas into Ukraine envisaged by the Minsk agreements should become the basis of the UN SC resolution, he said.
The negotiator says Minsk accords have all the elements necessary for this including the cease-fire, heavy weapons’ withdrawal, local elections, granting pardon to the militants, and granting special status to Ukraine’s eastern region which should be codified in the country’s constitution.
The diplomat believes all these items of the Minsk agreements can be implemented and become the basis for the region’s reintegration but the problem is that they have never been observed mainly because the Russian-controlled forces do not cease fire and withdraw troops.
Volker suggests that Kyiv believes the Minsk agreements have failed since they have not put an end to the conflict. However, he recalls that Ukraine also has a number of commitments under these accords such as holding elections, granting pardon and special status to the Donbas and the country’s authorities keep them in mind.
The envoy also said that Russia should start implementing the Minsk agreements by making a principled decision to stop the conflict and bring about peace. He says Russia keeps denying its direct involvement insisting that its actors in the region must be reckoned with in order to stabilize the situation in the Donbas. According to him, the situation will not be solved until Kremlin keeps taking this course.
Volker says everyone hopes that Russia will reconsider its position when its leadership comes to the conclusion that the occupation of the territory of Ukraine is no longer in its interests.
According to the U.S. negotiator, the sanctions will have a greater impact on Russia if they stay in place. He says everyone understand that the sanctions will increasingly harm Russia over time. The Russian authorities want the sanctions to be lifted but the pretext for their lifting is actual implementation of the Minsk agreements, he said.