The process of negotiations within the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk and the Normandy format has been driven into a tight corner as Russian Federation refuses to recognise itself a party to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

“Russia’s refusal to act responsibly as a party to the conflict through constructive participation in the Trilateral Contact Group negotiations, as well as the obstruction of the next meeting in the Normandy format, drives these negotiating formats in a tight corner,” reads the statement of the European Union on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the illegal occupation of Crimea made at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting in Vienna.

The European Union reminded that two years have passed since the last Normandy format summit, at which the Common Agreed Conclusions were signed.

“We regret that most of the measures agreed upon at that time have not yet been implemented, although agreements at the technical level have been reached in the working groups of the Trilateral Contact Group. However, they remain blocked at the political level,” the European Union said.

In addition, the EU expressed regrets that at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Stockholm on 2-3 December, Russia once again “did not take part in the negotiations on the declaration of the OSCE’s efforts for peace in Ukraine.”

The EU also recalled concerns about the deteriorating security situation in eastern Ukraine due to the sharp rise in ceasefire violations and Russia’s build-up of troops near the border with Ukraine.

The European Union called on the Russian Federation to adhere to existing mechanisms under the Vienna Document on transparency of displacement and to de-escalate tensions.

The day before, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also reported a “stalemate” in the talks within the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas. The Russian side reiterated that the “Kyiv regime” “avoids direct dialogue with Donetsk and Luhansk.”

Earlier, the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group prepared a new document on Donbas, which was considered at an extraordinary meeting.

In particular, Kyiv offered that the Russian side establish a truce in Donbas, open entry-exit checkpoints, and exchange prisoners. All initiatives were rejected. In addition, the Russian Federation rejected Ukraine’s proposal to involve representatives of Germany and France in the Joint Center for Control and Coordination in Donbas. Following the TCG meeting, the head of the Russian delegation, Boris Gryzlov, called Ukraine’s proposal absurd and accused Kyiv of imitation of truce talks and incapacity.

Bohdan Marusyak

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