Kiev will open fire only if its troops in Eastern Ukraine are threatened or attacked, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said in an interview with the French Liberation newspaper.
“We do not seek to escalate, we are committed to a political and diplomatic settlement of this conflict. We will open fire only if there is a threat to our troops on the ground or if they are attacked,” Kuleba said.
The minister added that Kiev was satisfied with the comprehensive ceasefire that entered into force on July 27, 2020.
“Until December, it worked well, but then something changed in Moscow. As for us, we do not carry out any reinforcements with the aim of going on the offensive, these are simply ordinary military rotations. But if one of ours is killed, we have the right to defend ourselves,” Kuleba said.
Kuleba also expressed the opinion that the position of France and Germany within the “Normandy format” should be more active in order to move towards a real settlement.
“The “Normandy format” and Minsk-2 worked and gave results: stabilization of the situation on the ground, exchange of prisoners, ceasefire … “Normandy format” is enough to stabilize the situation. However, it is obvious that in order to move towards a real settlement, we need a more active position of France and Germany within the framework of the Normandy format, or an external factor, a little additional energy that will give impetus to the process and change the status quo,” the Ukrainian Foreign Minister said.
Kuleba also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had allegedly “underestimated” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and now that he has realized his mistakes, he is dealing with him differently.
“One of the reasons for President Putin’s change in behavior is that he underestimated President Zelensky. Zelensky’s desire for dialogue does not mean that he is ready to compromise in the national interest and concede on issues of crucial importance for the future of the Ukrainian state. As soon as the Russians understood this, they changed their behavior. To be clear, we are always ready to speak with Russia, but the object of this discussion must be the departure of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory and the restoration of national sovereignty. There cannot be any other subject for negotiation.”
This is, more or less, exactly the same rhetoric of former President Petro Poroshenko.
He also said that Kiev was receiving “unprecedented” support from the United States:
“Moscow is testing Washington, that is one of the stated goals. I am satisfied with the way the United States is responding. Within a week, the foreign ministers of our countries, those of defense, the chiefs of staff, the security advisers and finally the two presidents, spoke to each other. This is the first time that we have had such a diversity of contact with the United States in such a short period. The messages that we have heard from the Americans, that we have made public, have certainly been heard in Moscow.”
Additional measures to ensure the ceasefire entered into force in Donbass on July 27, 2020. They imply a complete ban on firing, placing weapons in and near settlements, offensive and reconnaissance and sabotage actions. In addition, the measures provide for disciplinary liability for violation of the ceasefire.
At the end of March, Ukrainian security officials said that four soldiers were killed and two more were wounded during shelling near the village of Shumy in the Donetsk region. Kiev began to talk about the aggravation of the situation in Donbass.
The DPR also announced an increase in the number of attacks from the Ukrainian security forces. The head of the self-proclaimed republic Denis Pushilin did not rule out the possibility of a full-scale attack by Kiev on Donbass, noting that “Ukraine has everything ready for this.” The DPR reported the death of a child on April 3 after Kiev used a drone with an explosive device.
The press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that the reality on the contact line in Ukraine is frightening, the provocations of the Ukrainian military are numerous. According to him, Russia, not participating in the conflict, cannot ensure a comprehensive ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine, but uses its influence to implement agreements.
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