President Zelenskyy must not cross red lines
The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) is troubled by the lack of clarity and transparency on the deal that was struck during the recent meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk on October 1, 2019. The UWC calls on Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to maintain a clear and unequivocal position that:
1) No elections can take place in the Russian-occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts until all Russian troops, mercenaries, weapons and materiel are withdrawn from Ukrainian territory, Ukraine regains complete control of the Ukrainian side of the Ukraine-Russia border and the displaced residents of Donbas are able to peacefully return to their homes;
2) Ukraine’s strategic course for Euro-Atlantic and NATO integration, as set out in Ukraine’s Constitution, is non-negotiable and immutable;
3) Ukraine will continue to stress to foreign governments that international sanctions on Russia must be strengthened and expanded until Russia de-occupies sovereign Ukrainian territory of Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
The UWC is deeply concerned with the lack of clarity on what Ukraine is prepared to agree to under the so-called “Steinmeier Formula,” a political concession that Russia has demanded. President Zelenskyy made the concession in exchange for a meeting of the leaders of the Normandy Format countries (Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia), without any indication that Russia would implement the security provisions in the Minsk Agreements that Russia is obligated to carry out, including the withdrawal of Russian troops, weapons and materiel from Ukrainian territory.
On October 1, he also announced that Ukraine’s Law on the special provisions of local self-government in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which expires December 31, 2019, would be replaced by a new law, but did not voice any specifics or details about the new draft legislation.
On September 7, President Zelenskyy acceded to the Russian demand that a key suspect in the downing of MH-17 held in Ukrainian custody, Volodymyr Tsemakh, be included in a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia.
Moreover, senior Ukrainian officials have recently made seemingly contradictory and ambiguous statements on what precisely the Administration is willing to accept as a compromise to end Russia’s war against Ukraine.
“Agreeing to any Russian demands during the summit of the Normandy leaders that Ukraine hold elections on territory under Russian occupation, or that Ukraine change its strategic course of NATO and EU integration, are red lines that President Zelenskyy must not cross,” stated Paul Grod, President of the UWC. “Crossing these lines will have grave consequences for his presidency, Ukraine’s sovereignty, and the future of peace in Europe.”
Recent statements by senior Ukrainian officials:
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