Ukraine to mull gesture towards rebel region – Germany
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is willing to develop a bill that would grant special status to the two breakaway republics in the country’s south-eastern Donbass region, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said during a press conference on Monday.
Speaking in Kiev after a meeting with Zelensky, Scholz revealed that the Ukrainian leader would consider drawing up a bill that would lead to the two self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) being given more autonomy. The two regions declared independence from Kiev eight years ago, after the events of the Maidan, when violent street protests toppled the democratically elected government in Ukraine. Neither Moscow nor Kiev has recognized them as independent countries.
“The President assured me that Ukraine would present draft laws on special status and on elections [in the region],” Scholz said.
Scholz was in Kiev for a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, during which he stressed to Zelensky that Germany “stood close by [Ukraine’s] side” amid the current rising tensions in Eastern Europe.
Friction between Ukraine and Russia currently centers around the terms of the Minsk agreements, two treaties signed in 2014 and 2015, brokered by France and Germany, which resulted in a ceasefire in Donbass and created a roadmap to continued peace in the region. Their terms have yet to be implemented.
As part of the agreements, the Ukrainian government pledged to grant “special status” to the Donbass region. However, in the meantime, Kiev has backtracked from the deals, now suggesting that the Minsk agreement is unfair and was a non-binding instrument to end the war. It has also insisted that granting autonomy to the two Donbass republics would damage the sanctity of the state.
Ukraine also accuses Russia of placing troops in the Donbass region in violation of the Minsk agreements.
However, if followed through, Zelensky’s willingness to create a new draft law on special status would constitute a Ukrainian concession that could present a path out of the current tensions. Speaking to CNN on Monday, Vadim Pristayko, the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK, also suggested that a deal may be made.
“What these concessions could be is just to recognize some sort of special status of this region, to finally have a political resolution,” he said.