Former Prime Minister of Ukraine Vitold Fokin, who now serves as the first deputy head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group in the Mink peace talks, said on Sept. 29 during a Verkhovna Rada committee meeting that he has not yet seen any evidence regarding Russia’s war on Ukraine, a war that has taken more than 13,000 lives.
“I am not a politician. I cannot define what is going on, since I haven’t seen any confirmation that there is a war between Ukraine and Russia,” Fokin said.
Fokin, who served as prime minister from 1990 to 1992, was appointed by President Volodymyr Zelensky to delegate Ukraine during the Minsk peace talks with Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), aiming to resolve Russia’s war in the Donbas. Russian-backed forces seized control over the part of the Donbas six years ago and military fighting in the region continues since then.
Fokin, however, said that Ukrainians in the Donbas are fighting against mercenaries from over 30 countries and only some of them are supported by Russia.
Fokin’s statement caused sharp disapproval among Ukrainian lawmakers.
Previously, Fokin was criticized for his approach to cease Russia’s war against Ukraine. Fokin said that Ukraine and Russia should declare a general amnesty, decide on the Donbas’ special status, and hold local elections in the region.
Ukraine’s former President Leonid Kravchuk, who is currently the head of Ukraine’s delegation in the Minsk peace talks, agrees that Ukraine should make concessions on local elections that are scheduled for Oct. 25 all over Ukraine, except in the Russian-occupied parts of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts and Crimea.
Their view is unpopular and Ukraine’s parliament opposed the idea because most members of parliament believe that holding elections in eastern Donbas before the full de-occupation of the area would legitimize the militants who de facto rule the region.
Russia, on the contrary, demands Ukraine to hold local elections on the occupied territories while Russian-backed militants remain in control. Russia is unwilling to have any further discussions until Ukraine agrees to hold such elections in eastern Donbas.
The majority of Ukrainians also disagrees with Fokin’s notion to declare a general amnesty, and many are concerned that it could allow war criminals and human rights violators to get off the hook, and allow Russia to officially take over Ukraine’s eastern territory.
As a result of such disagreements between Ukrainian lawmakers and participants of Ukraine’s delegation in the Minsk peace talks, the Voice political party signed a petition to Zelensky to recall Fokin from the Trilateral Contact Group.