US State Department Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker announced that the next meeting with Russian Presidential Advisor Vladislav Surkov on bringing an end to the war in the Donbas will not take place before December. Until this time, the parties are pausing, following the lack of success of the previous negotiations. Volker spoke about this in an interview with LB.ua, recorded for the VIII National Expert Forum.
“During the first two meetings, I had the feeling that we were opening access to possibilities, that Russia was investigating the idea of using peacekeeping forces. They really wanted to associate the peacekeeping forces with formats that already exist – with Minsk, with Normandy, OSCE observers etc. However, there was the impression that they were open to discussing the key parameters, including security in this territory, access to the border and the like. The last meeting was really a step backwards. Russia went back to its original concept of using only security forces. And so we agreed to take a break, to think about each other’s positions, to make consultations, and to meet again sometime in December,” Volker explained.
However, he noted that the ideas of introducing a peacekeeping mission in the Donbas proposed by both sides will still open the discussion, even though they differ in several key aspects.
“We suggested the implementation of constant peacekeeping forces with a UN mandate in this zone. This is similar to what Ukraine suggested several years ago. And, interestingly, after my first meeting with my Russian colleague, Russia suggested bringing UN security forces into this zone. The concepts are different. The Russian conception is only protection for the OSCE observers, and does not entail control of the Ukrainian border by international forces as a result. And it leaves the question of heavy weaponry unanswered. But at least this will open the discussion.”
“We suggested something more significant – a real peacekeeping force, which will be responsible for security in all the territories, for restraining and monitoring heavy weaponry, and for controlling the Ukrainian side of the Russian-Ukrainian border. This would ensure conditions which would make it possible to continue implementing the other parts of the Minsk agreements,” Volker resumed.