12 Sep 2018 20:30

Volker doesn't see Moscow's willingness to settle Donbas problem

BERLIN. Sept 12 (Interfax) - Moscow is not willing to take any practical steps toward settling the situation in eastern Ukraine at the moment, U.S. Department of State Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker said.

The Russian side is basically not prepared to move - and that's the problem," Volker said in an interview published on the Deutsche Welle website on Wednesday.

"They have not really done anything in the past several years to try to bring about peace and security," he said.

Volker presumed that Moscow would not take any active efforts for settling the crisis before the presidential elections in Ukraine in 2019.

"I think the Russians have apparently decided that they're not going to be making new efforts for peace right now; they'd rather wait it out and see the results of elections in Ukraine next year," he said.

However, Volker said he is maintaining contact with his Russian counterpart even in this situation. "We disagree over very substantial things, but nevertheless we've been in touch," he said.

The recent assassination of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) leader Alexander Zakharchenko shows that the security situation in eastern Ukraine remains very complicated, he said.

"The assassination is just another indicator (as if we needed one) that there is a need for peace and security in eastern Ukraine," he said.

Speaking of the Minsk Agreements, Volker said holding elections in the DPR would violate them, as there is no basic security in the self-proclaimed republics and because they "have no place under the Minsk Agreements. They have no place in Ukraine's constitutional order."

The U.S., along with other Western countries, has increased pressure on Russia over the past year, he said.

"We have increased sanctions, we have increased our support to Ukraine, and we've done all of this together as a trans-Atlantic community, with close coordination with France and Germany, which lead the Normandy format, as well as Canada, the UK, Sweden and many others," Volker said.