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Fokin fired: Ukraine's Zelensky sacks ex-PM from his Donbass peace delegation for saying Russia is not at war with Kiev

Fokin fired: Ukraine's Zelensky sacks ex-PM from his Donbass peace delegation for saying Russia is not at war with Kiev
Former Prime Minister Vitold Fokin has been removed from Ukraine’s delegation to the contact group tasked with regulating the Donbass conflict after remarks he made in Kiev’s parliament that were deemed to be supportive of Russia.

The comments, which Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky’s office called “appalling,” were delivered in the Verkhovnaya Rada on Tuesday, where Fokin, Ukraine’s first prime minister, was outlining his vision for how to achieve peace in the Donbass.

“I see no signs of a war [in the east of the country] between the Russian Federation and Ukraine,” he replied in answer to a question from Dmitry Fokin (no relation), a member of Zelensky’s Servant of the People Party.

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He added that, by calling for elections in Donbass, Russia is demanding only what is stipulated in the Minsk agreements. The 87-year-old Fokin gave his opinion that, to control the situation in the turbulent region, it is necessary to bestow a special status on the territories of Donetsk and Lugansk.

In response to Fokin’s sacking from the group, President Zelensky’s office today released a statement claiming that his comments “are not a fair evaluation of the temporary occupation by Russia of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol, and certain districts within the Donetsk and Lugansk regions”. The statement said that Zelensky’s office had been “appalled” by his words.

Fokin had only joined the Donbass contact group in August, shortly after the chairmanship of the group was passed from Ukraine’s former president, Leonid Kuchma, to another former president, Leonid Kravchuk. The group comprises representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. It aims to facilitate an end to the Donbass dispute by diplomatic means.

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