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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Outlines Donbas Peace Plan In Brussels, Luxembourg

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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystayko (file photo)

Addressing European lawmakers in Brussels, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystayko has said Kyiv seeks to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, but not at any cost.

"Ukraine is now and will stay a unitary state. We are not talking about a forceful federalization of Ukraine," Prystayko said on October 14 in an address to the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET).

"A second red line is that we are not changing our constitution the way Russia wants it," he added.

Prystayko said Kyiv was ready to grant the areas held by Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions "some sort of self-determination within the process of decentralization," which he said "is ongoing in Ukraine anyway."

Earlier in the day, Prystayko said in an interview that a summit to bring peace in eastern Ukraine could take place in Paris in mid-November if Kyiv and the separatists can maintain a cease-fire in the conflict that has killed some 13,000 people since April 2014.

Prystayko told Reuters that a meeting between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany would be a "last chance" for Moscow to seriously engage in efforts toward a settlement of the conflict.

Later the same day, he addressed a regular meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg where outgoing EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini endorsed Kyiv's plans for reforms and achieving peace.

"We received from him a very comprehensive and -- I would say -- satisfactory...plans that the government and the administration have on the reform agenda of the country, but also on how to address the conflict in the east of Ukraine," Mogherini said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy last week accused Russia of delaying the summit because Moscow says Kyiv needs to pull back its troops first.

In the interview, Prystayko said the summit would have to follow a seven-day cease-fire and the withdrawal of light weapons from the east.

"I'm still hopeful, otherwise we wouldn't even be trying," the Ukrainian minister said. "We have some dates...we are aiming for the middle of next month, sometime around mid-November."

Pro-Russian militants stand next to a sign saying "Danger mines!" as OSCE observers inspect the situation from their side close to the front line in the village of Petrovske, in the Donetsk region, on October 10.
Pro-Russian militants stand next to a sign saying "Danger mines!" as OSCE observers inspect the situation from their side close to the front line in the village of Petrovske, in the Donetsk region, on October 10.

Cease-fire road maps announced as part of the Minsk accords -- in September 2014 and February 2015 pacts -- have contributed to a decrease in fighting in eastern Ukraine but have failed to hold.

"We've told everyone openly that we are making maybe the last honest attempt to follow the Minsk path," Prystayko said.

"If it doesn't work, we will have to look to some plan B," he added, declining to say what that might be.

With reporting by Reuters
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