The Russian delegation at the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) that participates in negotiations in Minsk insists that only militants of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics (LDNR) should be “the voice” of these occupied districts. They are present at the Minsk negotiations as “guests”. As it turned out at one of the recent meetings of the TCG, they have Russian passports.

The Ukrainian party of the Trilateral Contact Group has refused more than once to conduct a direct dialog with militants. In response, the Kremlin accuses the official Kyiv of disrupting the peace process.

In order to fulfill the Minsk agreements, the delegation of Ukraine proposed to invite migrants from the ORDLO who have Ukrainian citizenship to the talks.

As of today, the Ukrainian authorities have enlisted the help of four settlers for the talks on Donbas. Journalists Serhiy Harmash and Denys Kazansky will represent the Donetsk Region. Traumatic surgeon Konstantyn Lybster and chief of the public organization “Luhansk Community” Vadym Horan will take part in the talk on behalf of the Luhansk Region. During the last meeting of the TCG that was held on June 9, these four men performed as consultants of the political subgroup.

“Such entities as the LNR and DNR have been mentioned nowhere. Consequently, no document says that Ukraine has to negotiate something with these organizations”, notes Kazansky.

Harmash believes that the official Kyiv has to conduct consultations with representatives of ORDLO. “We are interested that our government consults with us and not with “ministers” of the LDNR. Such letters are absent in the Minsk agreements. We, as representatives of ORDLO, will have consultations with our authorities”, he stressed.

It should be noted that political analysts hold different opinions concerning this decision of the official Kyiv. Some of them are rather skeptical about it. For instance, Mariya Zolkyna says that “despite any attempts of Ukraine to break the stalemate in the situation around Donbas, Russia’s behavior appears to be the key stumbling block. Any initiative offered by the TCG in Minsk is doomed as an idea if it does not fit Russia’s story about a direct dialog with the occupational administrations”.

However, in the opinion of the majority of analysts, the participation of Donbas migrants in the Minsk TCG strengthens the Ukrainian position at the negotiations in Normandy and demonstrates Western partners Ukraine’s wish to seek a break in the deadlock. “The presence of Donbas residents with the pro-Ukrainian position at the talks of the TCG creates a precedent. It will destroy the monopoly of the separatist republics on their being the sole representatives of interests of this Ukrainian territory”, says political observer Volodymyr Fesenko. In his opinion, Ukraine has been demonstrating the position of principle in the past year. Now Germany, France and the OSCE can see that Kyiv, using offensive tactics, seeks progress in the settlement of the conflict in Donbas.

Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine negotiations, has welcomed the decision to include the Ukrainian citizens who represent Donbas in the negotiations in Minsk. He said in his interview with “Voice of America”, “President Zelenskyy and his team do a right thing by demonstrating their readiness to conduct talks with Russia in different forms being flexible and offering new ideas”. In the view of the American diplomat, Zelenskyy deprives Russia of her major arguments that she allegedly does not control the so-called LDNR and that it is Ukraine that violates the Minsk agreements. Zelenskyy shows that all responsibility for a failure to reach progress rests with Moscow.

The newspaper Holos Ukrainy