LUGANSK, January 16 (Lugansk Media Centre) - The Lugansk People’s Republic and Ukraine failed to discuss POW exchange and the launching of new crossing points between the LPR and Ukraine as Ukrainian representative to the Contac Group humanitarian subgroup Valeria Lutkovskaya had not turned up for the Tuesday talks, LPR representative to the Contact Group humanitarian subgroup, head of the Republic’s group on prisoner exchange Olga Kobtseva said after the talks in the Belarussian capital.
“In actual fact, Kiev derailed the humanitarian group’s talks today because its representative Valeria Lutkovskaya had failed to come to Minsk and passed, on short notice, her powers to the expert representing Ukraine,” Kobtseva said.
It was a purely formal meeting, she added.
“The parties exchanged information concerning the agenda, but “the expected productiveness in the humanitarian subgroup’s work was sorely missing,” Kobtseva said. “We had planned to discuss the issues concerning more prisoner swaps, the launching of new crossing points between the LPR and Ukraine and other urgent humanitarian problems.”
“Ukraine bears full responsibility for the derailing the group’s full-fledged negotiations,” the LPR representative said.
The prisoner exchange between the Donbass Republics and Ukraine, the first in the past two years, took place on December 29, 2019 in the vicinity of the Gorlovka-Mayorskoye crossing point in the Donetsk People’s Republic responsibility zone. The detainee verification lasted several hours. Representatives of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and the International Committee of the Red Cross were monitoring the prisoner exchange. The LPR passed 25 detainees to Ukraine and the latter passed 63 people to the Republic.
The accord on prisoner exchange before yearend under the “all verified for all verified” principle was reached at the “Normandy Four” (Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia) summit in Paris on December 9-10, 2019. The prisoner exchange talks in Minsk on December 18 were unavailing due to Kiev representatives’ position. It was only possible to reach an accord at the video conference on December 23.
The previous large prisoner exchange between the Donbass Republics and Ukraine took place on December 27, 2017. Back then, the LPR handed over 16 detainees to Ukraine, and Kiev passed 73 people to the LPR. Overall, more than 300 people were involved in the process.
Prisoner exchange is a key point of the Minsk Agreements.
The Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements was adopted by the Contact Group on Ukraine on February 12, 2015 and supported by member states of the Normandy Four (Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France). The UN Security Council approved the document by Resolution 2202 and called upon all the sides to ensure full implementation of the Package of Measures.
The document provides for comprehensive ceasefire, withdrawal of all heavy weapons from the contact line, starting a dialog on reconstruction of social and economic ties between Kiev and Donbass. It also envisages carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine providing for decentralization and adopting permanent legislation on a special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
To facilitate the work of the Contact Group, four working groups were set up under its aegis to deal with issues of security, politics, return of internally displaced people and refuges, as well as with social, humanitarian, economic and rehabilitation issues.
LuganskMediaCentre — 16 January — Lugansk