Ukraine proposes peace plan for Donbass
As tensions mount in war-torn Donbass, Kiev has proposed a ten-stage process aimed at resolving the conflict.
The steps were announced by President Volodymyr Zelensky and his senior adviser, Andrey Yermak, at a conference of Ukrainian ambassadors on Tuesday. According to Zelensky, the propositions can be implemented by the parties in the Normandy Format talks – Berlin, Moscow, Kiev and Paris – and also Washington.
“We passed these steps on to President Biden, Russia, France, and Germany,” the Ukrainian leader said.
On Friday, Russian news outlet Kommersant reported that it had obtained the details of the ten-point plan. One of the steps included the holding of a phone call between Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the facilitation of a “New Year/Christmas” mutual release and exchange for conflict-related detainees, as well as determining authorized representatives of the two presidents to start negotiations on the continuation of transiting Russian gas after 2024.
Later stages are said to include the preparation and coordination of the agenda and final documents in readiness for a meeting between the two heads of state. After that, Kommersant said, a summit of the Normandy Format leaders would take place.
The final stage would be reaching an agreement on a number of laws submitted to Ukraine’s parliament, including proposals on the specifics of local self-government, amnesty decentralization, and holding regional elections in the uncontrolled regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. However, these are not new and were listed in the ‘Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements’ of 2015.
The Minsk Protocol is the ceasefire pact that was inked in 2014 in a bid to put an end to the war in Donbass. The conflict broke out following the events of the 2014 Maidan, when violent street protests toppled a democratically elected government. This eventually led to the two self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk republics declaring their independence from Kiev.
Neither Russia, Ukraine, nor any other UN member state recognizes the breakaway republics' sovereignty. Moscow has argued that it is not a party to the fighting, stating that the onus is on Kiev to strike a deal with the leaders of the two regions.
In April, Zelensky said that he was “not going to talk to terrorists,” insisting that he would prefer to meet with Putin instead. The Ukrainian leader alleges that the separatists are Russia-backed.