Ukrainian Foreign Minister explains failure to withdraw troops in Donbas
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko, in an interview with Ukrinform, provided the reasons for the failure to withdraw forces in the Donbas.
Prystaiko admitted that in Ukrainian society withdrawal of the troops deeper into Ukraine is perceived as a retreat. “To move away deeper into our territory is painful,” he said. The Minister noted that now it is “a hot topic that causes a lot of emotions” in Ukraine.
“The Ukrainian Armed Forces were withdrawing, but the Ukrainian government, police and other bodies that can ensure the safety of Ukrainian citizens remained there,” said Prystaiko. “At this stage, fortifications are not dismantled, and if we see that we, to put it mildly, have been deceived, and they are trying to take our positions, the Armed Forces will return to their previous positions,” the Foreign Minister added.
According to Prystaiko, the Ukrainian side is at the stage when it is necessary to decide whether it should move forward or continue to “sit in the trenches” and “lose one or two people a day.”
“Who should make this decision? You, me, President Zelensky, or the protestants on the street? Why you did not ask Petro [Poroshenko] about that five years ago when the Minsk agreements were signed?” said the Minister.
At a press conference in Kyiv on October 1, President Zelensky said that Ukraine had agreed to the text of the Steinmeier Formula at the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk.
He emphasized that elections could only take place in the occupied Donbas territories if Kyiv is given full control of the parts of the Russian border in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that are currently not under its control.
On September 12, Zelensky said that Kyiv would insist on a Normandy Format session in September. He said that the leaders of the four represented countries would discuss the “Steinmeier Formula and all aspects of the Minsk Agreements”.
The formula was proposed by former German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. He said that the Donbas should be given a “special status” on the day that elections are held in the occupied territories, with the simultaneous withdrawal of illegal armed groups.