Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Kommersant in an interview that the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) are members of the Trilateral Contact Group and should sign the Steinmeier Formula.
“We are extremely upset and concerned about what happened in the Contact Group. At the meeting of foreign policy advisors in Paris on September 11, there was a rather substantive discussion about how exactly the Contact Group should approve this formula. In the end, without exception, the advisors to the Normandy Format leaders agreed that the Contact Group should sign this document. I will mention that there were discussions about whether perhaps not all members of the Contact Group would sign this document. But the Russian representative said clearly that the Contact Group is the very format in which issues related to the Minsk Agreements should be dealt with. All representatives of parties in the Contact Group – Kyiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, the OSCE, Russia – put their signatures on the Minsk Agreements. To exclude any of the signatories would not work,” he said.
However, Lavrov believes that it was not this demand which led to the non-signing of the Steinmeier Formula.
“Leonid Kuchma said that he doesn’t want to sign it, or else there will be another Maidan in Kyiv,” the foreign minister stated.
“You have subsequently heard statements from Kyiv. They have been contradictory. The bottom line is that it needs to be signed. I repeat, with the reservations which Vadym Prystaiko argued about, it must be signed, but it doesn’t mean that everything will be implemented in that way. We have to move forward, essentially, to feel our way, trying each time to understand what is happening within the Kyiv elite, how the close circle of the President of Ukraine is trying to interpret their stated wish to achieve peace in the Donbas and what this could mean for the Donbas,” Lavrov added.
The text of the Steinmeier Formula was meant to be signed at the Trilateral Contact Group meeting in Minsk on September 18, but was not, due to observations that were made.
At the negotiations, Kuchma said that the formula can only be implemented under the following conditions: A full ceasefire; effective monitoring by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission throughout Ukraine’s territory; the full withdrawal from Ukrainian territory of armed groups, foreign troops and military equipment; the separation of forces and equipment along the entire demarcation line; the proper involvement of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission, political parties, media and foreign observers; Ukrainian control over the currently uncontrolled stretches of the border with Russia, as well as compliance with other aspects of Ukrainian and international legislation and the Minsk Agreements.