First Results of Talks in Minsk Positive
The first results of the multilateral talks in Minsk, attended by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, as well as European Union officials, are deemed positive, with several issues discussed, including the situation in Ukraine, gas issues, Russian food embargo and others.
Speaking on the situation in the troubled eastern regions of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko suggested accepting his peace plan that should help to cease the bloodshed and rebuild the Donbas region.
Despite differences in attitude to the crisis in Ukraine, all participants of the Customs Union-Ukraine-EU meeting agreed on non-violent manner of the crisis de-escalation and said the captives should be released.
Earlier this month, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that about 1,000 punitive operation participants are being held captive by the militia in eastern Ukraine. The Donetsk militia announced that they are ready to give their prisoners of war to their mothers if they are to come pick them up.
Russia expressed its willingness to do everything possible to ensure the progress of a peace process in Ukraine and stop the bloodshed in the country.
"Russia will do everything possible for this peace process once it starts. This process must be launched as soon as possible," Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
The sides agreed on cooperation on Russia's humanitarian aid delivery to the citizens of eastern Ukraine.
It was added that a meeting of the contact group for Ukrainian reconciliation, involving Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), may take place in Minsk on Wednesday. Moscow and Kiev have also agreed to intensify the work of the trilateral group for the implementation of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement.
According to Russian Energy Minister Alexnader Novak, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union have also reached an agreement to continue three-party talks on gas issues that continued from mid-April to June to no avail. The European Union expressed no concern about the gas supplies being potentially interrupted by Ukrainian authorities in light of a law passed by the Ukrainian parliament, which allows Kiev to impose more than 20 different types of sanctions against Russia, including a possible ban on the transit of Russian energy resources through its territory.
Novak noted that Russia did not consider the possibility of European customers purchasing Russian gas on the Russian-Ukrainian border and had no plans to review its contract with Ukraine for the gas transit to Europe.
The talks on energy issues involving the energy ministers from Ukraine, Russia and the European Union will be held on September 6.
The Minsk talks also touched upon the Russian ban of food imports from Western countries and the issue of embargoed goods being actively shipped to Moscow via Belarus.
Moscow said it would lift its food embargo when Russia's national security was no longer threatened. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich pointed out that Russia had to impose the embargo to make its Western partners think twice before imposing any anti-Russian measures.
Russia expressed hopes that Western countries would treat with respect the measures Moscow was taking to protect its economy.
So far, Moscow has positively evaluated the Customs Union-Ukraine-EU meeting in the Belarusian capital. EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton has also given a positive assessment of the talks. Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said that the participants of the Minsk talks had had a candid dialogue and considered the meeting positive, stressing that the sides had held an open exchange of opinions on a range of issues. partly from ria.ru