Ukraine contact group talks with pro-Russians canceled

Ukraine contact group talks with pro-Russians canceled

Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:21PM

A scheduled meeting between a three-party contact group on Ukraine and representatives of the self-proclaimed republics of eastern Ukraine has been canceled.

The trilateral contact group, comprised of the representatives of the Ukrainian government, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was earlier slated to hold a meeting with the representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Friday.

“There will be no talks today,” an employee of the Ukrainian Embassy in Belarus told the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti later in the day.

“The meeting was obstructed by the Ukrainian side, as we arrived and did everything to continue the negotiations,” Denis Pushilin, the representative of the Donetsk People’s Republics, said during a news briefing at Minsk airport before leaving Belarus.

“The new date for the talks has not been agreed yet, but we are open for further dialogue,” Pushilin added.

The contact group has been holding meetings in Minsk since August 2014. The talks have resulted in some agreements on resolving the crisis in eastern Ukraine, including a ceasefire deal.

The Minsk ceasefire deal was inked by the representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the Belarusian capital on September 5 last year. The truce has been frequently violated by both the Ukrainian military and pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine.

The two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia protesters and the Ukrainian army since Kiev’s military operation started in mid-April in a bid to crush the protests.

Violence intensified in May after the two flashpoint regions held local referendums in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation.

According to the latest figures released by the United Nations, more than 4,700 people have been killed in the fighting.

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