Early Wednesday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone discussion with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko. Out of the conversation, statements were issued by both presidential offices, indicating that some points of convergence had been reached over a cease-fire and overall settlement to the crisis. According to RIIA Novosti, President Putin said that he “believes final agreements between the Kiev government and southeastern Ukraine could be reached and sealed during the scheduled Contact Group meeting on September 5.”
The Ukrainian Presidential site reported that “the conversation resulted in agreement regarding a ceasefire regime in the Donbass.” More cautiously, the Kremlin site reported that the two presidents had “continued their detailed discussion of the military and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and exchanged views on priority steps needed to bring about a swift end to the bloodshed in Ukraine’s southeast,” and that the two presidents had “expressed to a large extent similar views on possible ways out of the crisis.”
The Washington Post noted that one reason that the Ukraine government might be willing to seriously work on a cease-fire is that the situation on the ground in the east has deteriorated. “Ukraine’s military—never well-equipped or well-trained to begin with—has been suffering steep losses in recent weeks and it has been unclear how long it can hold out against tough attacks from the pro-Russian side.” There are, according to some US intelligence accounts, as many as 7,000 Ukrainian soldiers and militia pinned down and surrounded in locations in the east.
While in Mongolia, President Putin issued a seven-point proposal for a full cease-fire and settlement of the disputed status of eastern Ukraine, which he said was pursuant to his discussion with Poroshenko. During a press conference at the end of the visit to Mongolia, Putin was asked about the phone call with Poroshenko, and he delivered the following account: Yes, I did speak with President Poroshenko this morning, and it seemed to me at any rate that our views on how to settle the conflict are very close, as the diplomats say.
On the way here from Blagoveshchensk to Ulan Bator, I jotted down a few thoughts that could constitute an action plan of sorts. True, I have only these notes that I jotted down, but I can read them to you if you want.
“In order to stop the bloodshed and stabilize the situation in southeast Ukraine, I believe that the parties to the conflict should immediately agree on and coordinate the following steps:
- , end active offensive operations by armed forces, armed units and militia groups in southeast Ukraine in the Donetsk and Lugansk areas.
“Second, withdraw Ukrainian armed forces units to a distance that would make it impossible to fire on populated areas using artillery and all types of multiple-launch rocket systems.
“Third, allow for full and objective international monitoring of compliance with the ceasefire and monitoring of the situation in the safe zone created by the ceasefire.
“Fourth, exclude all use of military aircraft against civilians and populated areas in the conflict zone.
“Fifth, organize the exchange of individuals detained by force on an all-for-all basis without any preconditions.
“Sixth, open humanitarian corridors for refugees and for delivering humanitarian cargoes to towns and populated areas in Donbass Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.
“Seventh, make it possible for repair brigades to come to damaged settlements in the Donbass region in order to repair and rebuild social facilities and life-supporting infrastructure and help the region to prepare for the winter.
“I think that the Kiev authorities and the representatives of southeast Ukraine could come to basic agreements and cement them at the contact group’s planned meeting on September 5.
I want to note that this statement and all I just said follow on from the telephone conversation with President Poroshenko that you asked about. I hope very much that Ukraine’s government will support the emerging progress in bilateral relations and make use of the positive opportunity the contact group’s work provides to bring about final and comprehensive settlement to the situation in southeast Ukraine, in full and unconditional respect for the lawful rights of those who live there of course.
That is all I have to say. I have nothing to add. Thank you.”
Lavrov On Putin’s Plan
RIA Novosti reports Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s statement on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan on solving the crisis in the Ukraine.
“We have been trying to contribute our efforts in launching a Ukrainian dialogue between Kiev and the southeast, and yesterday’s suggestion that President Putin voiced to President Poroshenko during a telephone call is on the negotiation table and we hope that the opposing sides in Ukraine will use these ideas and try to agree during the upcoming contact group meeting,” Lavrov said during talks with Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe President Ilkka Kanerva.
Meanwhile Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko told Euronews that Eastern European states’ concerns about their security and Russia’s alleged destabilization of the situation in Ukraine are baseless, and has more to do with phobias then with real security concerns.
“These worries are completely baseless. We have proven many times that all these so called facts produced by NATO and other European capitals are not really facts, but fabricated documents. We are not concentrating troops, neither movement of military hardware which could be considered as destabilizing,” Grushko said. Attributing them to phobias he said, “And phobias can not be treated with deploying tanks and additional combat forces,” he noted, advising the countries to take a closer look at such problems prevalent in their own societies.