Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
14th April, 2016
Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko commented on the possible impact of changes in the ranks of the Kiev leadership on the implementation of the Ukrainian side of the Minsk agreements.
“There is nothing new. The settlement of the conflict in Donbass will help the performance of the package of measures signed in Minsk more than a year ago. Although there is a more simple and quick way. Kiev may withdraw its troops beyond the borders of the Donetsk region and sit down at the negotiating table. It is necessary to understand the obvious thing: Kiev to withdraw troops from the contact line and bring them home. But we ourselves can’t because we’re home! Our homes are behind us in the literal sense of the word. We’re home, we have nowhere to send our troops. This is where Kiev sent its troops. So let Kiev lead them to the barracks, and we will start the negotiations about the future.
Not everyone can see this paradox. Currently, if Kiev withdraws its heavy weapons from the contact line on the basis of a package of measures, they really remain within the borders of the Donetsk region. And when we take our weapons at these distances, we are left without the protection of Donetsk, where many of our militia live. That is, in accordance with the Minsk agreements, our homes would be left without cover from heavy weapons, but Kiev would just redeploy its forces from one stranger’s territory to another stranger’s one.
But we are ready to fulfil our commitments. If we sign a package of measures, we will be ready to fulfil them. Only now, the performance does not depend on us, but on Kiev. Indeed, without the political part and the lifting of the economic blockade, the ceasefire will inevitably be temporary. If you do not begin to solve political issues, the clashes sooner or later will resume. This is the logic of all such conflicts – read the history.
A change of power in Kiev would have an impact on the attitude to the conflict? Now it is impossible to speak about it with confidence. It depends on the power combination that is to be formed in Kiev and how its viewed in Europe. But one thing is for sure: the political crisis in Kiev is not conducive to the political settlement of our conflict. It is more to say: any Ministerial reshuffle, any Cabinet changes, any re-elections, and all of that not only prevents, but actually blocks the Minsk process. Judge for yourself. Each such event allows the government in Kiev to postpone the settlement to the conflict: prior to the appointment of the new Cabinet, until the election of the new Parliament, until the election of a new President, etc., i.e. this allows Kiev to delay the implementation of a package of measures, which Kiev will definitely take advantage of.
Therefore, we are not pleased with all this political turmoil in Kiev. Let it be defined somewhat quicker, and the execution of the obligations for the Package of measures will happen too.
Will the new master in the White house influence our conflict? Probably, although hardly drastically. Still, America has a more or less unified foreign policy when changing presidents and parties in power. Although these elections promise more changes. In particular, the position of Trump suggests that he is ready to change. But for this it is necessary to win elections. So for this question we just have to wait.”