Last week, the Federal Foreign Office of Germany and the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France released a joint statement confirming that construction works to arrange two new entry-exit checkpoints along the line of contact in Donbas had been completed.

The joint statement in particular says, “France and Germany welcome the creation of two new crossing points on the contact line. This raises the number of crossing points along the approx. 450km-long contact line to seven. Ukraine is thus complying with the obligations agreed by Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany in the conclusions of the Normandy-format Summit held in Paris on 9 December 2019. Ukraine has thus taken steps to improve the desolate conditions at the crossing points before winter sets in and to ease the suffering of the people in eastern Ukraine”.

Germany and France called for Russia and the separatists to re-open without delay all existing entry-exit checkpoints along the line of division in the Donetsk Region. In their statement, Berlin and Paris firmly stressed that “the conflict must not be allowed to continue to be waged at the expense of the population, and the divides must not be allowed to widen”.

Berlin and Paris called on the Kremlin that as the joint statement said bears a share of responsibility for the successful implementation of the conclusions of the Paris summit to use its influence to ensure the fulfillment of all these agreements.
Germany and France stressed that they would remain committed to the goal of implementing in full the agreements reached in Paris last December.

On November 10, after a lengthy pause caused by the coronavirus epidemic, Ukraine re-opened all seven crossing points in Donbas. However, despite the earlier-reached agreements, Russia and the separatists who support Russia refused to open the crossing points on their side of the contact line.

Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov who is also a minister for issues of reintegration responded to the refusal, “Such actions demonstrate once again Russia’s attitude toward Ukrainian citizens and the conclusions of the Normandy Format summit”.

The reaction of the Kremlin to the joint statement of Germany and France was not long in coming. Following the day the statement was released, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the chief Russian diplomat, announced that “Moscow has enormous claims to its Western partners in the Normandy Format”. They allegedly indulge the Ukrainian side in its unwillingness to fulfill the Minsk agreements, the behavior that “borders on diplomatic dishonesty”. Lavrov insists that “Paris and Berlin must at least respond in some way” to the recent statements of Ukrainian authorities, particularly those made by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Ukraine must take control over the part of the border with Russia in Donbas.

The newspaper Voice of Ukraine