Russia demands that Kyiv show changes to Ukrainian Constitution on Donbas special status

At the Normandy talks, Russia insists on adopting a legal definition of the status of the Donbas and wants to see the draft amendment to the Constitution of Ukraine, reports the German publication Der Spiegel, citing unofficial working documents of the Russian delegation.

According to the documents, the Russian side demands that Ukraine submit a draft amendment to the Constitution by July 6. It must determine the status of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics in the state structure of Ukraine.

Russia also demands that Kyiv step up its efforts to implement the Steinmeier formula. The formula stipulates that the areas controlled by pro-Russian militants in the Donbas will automatically receive special status after the OSCE recognizes local elections as free and fair.

The document also says that Ukraine should "without additional conditions" by July 6 to draw up a list of prisoners, which the separatists must give back to the Ukrainian side. The separatists will also present a list of prisoners.

Dmitry Kozak, deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, said that Russia requires that Ukraine fulfills these conditions not until July 6, but "in the near future." He said that Moscow "is committed to encouraging all necessary decisions of a political peace settlement."

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky decided not to comment on the meeting of presidential advisers of the Normandy format on the settlement in the Donbas.

"No one can demand anything from Ukraine. We are an independent country. We all need to work on rhetoric. As for the meeting, I will tell you frankly: I am not ready to speak yet. The meeting was very good. It was focused. There is nothing more to comment on," the Ukrainian President said.

The Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration Andrii Yermak, who was present at the meeting on July 3 in Berlin, also did not talk about the results of the 11-hour talks. He said the meeting brought the forthcoming summit in Berlin closer.

The participants of the meeting agreed that every effort should be made to fully implement the decisions of the Paris summit of leaders of the Normandy format. In particular, the parties agreed on the need for real measures to ensure a full and comprehensive ceasefire.

The Russian side took a pause to prepare a response to the consolidated position of Ukraine, France and Germany.

At the end of March, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for the reintegration of temporarily occupied territories Oleksii Reznikov said that Ukraine is not going to introduce into the Constitution the special status of the captured territories of the Donbas, although, at the Trilateral Contact Group, Russia is constantly trying to raise this issue.

In June, the Ukrainian President's Office drafted a new bill on the "special status" of "the temporarily occupied territories of the Donbas", incorporating the "Steinmeier formula" into it.

  Donbas, Russia, Ukraine