Normandy format won't happen without disengagement in Donbas - Zelensky
The Normandy-format meeting [between Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia] depends on the disengagement of forces and hardware in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a press-marathon in Kyiv on Thursday.
"Speaking of disengagement, let me tell you that the disengagement will not happen as long as various kinds of people, who do not want the disengagement to succeed and continue to open random fire, keep coming in from both sides. There will be no Normandy format without disengagement. As I have said: this depends on us, too," Zelensky said.
For its part, Russia, as a participatory state of the Minsk process, should guarantee the disengagement of forces and the ceasefire, Zelensky said. "They must give a guarantee as a party to the Minsk process and the Trilateral Contact Group, which discusses such issues. So their guarantee is a must," Zelensky said.
As for the possible deployment of a peacekeeping contingent in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions for the purpose of restoring Kyiv's control over the Ukrainian-Russian border, Zelensky said, "Should we control the border? We should do that 100%. How can this be done? We should sit down. Peacekeepers are one of the options."
Forces are due to be disengaged in designated areas, "where the condition of [...] seven consecutive days of ceasefire has been observed," Zelensky said.
The condition has not been met in Zolote in Luhansk region where the attacks continued, but it has been met in Petrivske in Donetsk region, Zelensky said, adding that the disengagement in Petrivske did not depend on the disengagement in Zolote.
"We do not disengage in Zolote because of the attacks. And there are no people in Petrivske [...] I mean there are none of our people, civilians, in danger in the Petrivske disengagement area," he said.
The population of Zolote is being protected by the army, the police, the Ukrainian Security Service, and intelligence services, Zelensky said, adding that Petrivske has no civilian population. "The Petrivske disengagement area is nothing but steppe," he said.
The disengagement process takes place only in those areas where security of the civilian population could be provided, Zelensky said. "I disengage only in the areas where security can be provided," he said.
There are other disengagement areas designated by the Minsk Agreements where no proper security levels have been achieved, he said.