Donbas should hold elections after border problem solved
Ukraine's second president Leonid Kuchma who represents Ukraine in the Trilateral Contact Group, has said it was unacceptable if the Donbas area not controlled by Kyiv held local elections without having implemented all terms of the Minsk agreements.
"We should by no means pass the elections law and changes to the Constitution, if we are in this situation: they are shooting every day there [in Donbas], stepping up [shell attacks], they are deploying heavy weapons there: they are not withdrawing foreign troops, one could say, Russian ones; they do not want to talk about the Ukrainian-Russian border at all. And you understand: if our border is not there, then it is not our territory," Kuchma told reporters in Kyiv on Friday.
Russia is doing "whatever it wants" on the nearly 400-kilometer section of the border Ukraine can no longer control, he said.
"The resolution of the Minsk protocol - the ceasefire, heavy weaponry removal - must be implemented, so that the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] special mission can do the verification and say: yes, weapons were removed. This has not been done either. Only then shall we be able to talk about some achievements," the ex-president said.
Elections cannot be held in a territory not controlled by Ukraine, Kuchma said. "Today we are being pushed from all sides: let us conduct elections - on which territory? This is a territory beyond our control. What is there to talk about?" the Kyiv representative said.
"Those people who hold power there today - and they will definitely get elected at gunpoint - will they look to Kyiv? They looked to one side, and they will keep doing so. So, without appropriate conditions, as to where Ukrainian government must be present there, it is impossible to talk of any progress in the Minsk process," Kuchma said.
Without the negotiations in Minsk, "everything will simply fall apart," he said.