US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gesture prior tp a bilateral on the sidelines of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) ministerial meeting in Basel, Switzerland, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. Source: AP
The Kommersant newspaper sums up the first day of meetings between foreign ministers representing the OSCE countries in Basel, Switzerland. The newspaper writes that representatives of the foreign delegations subjected Russia to harsh criticism, accusing Moscow of destabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine.
Similar statements were made by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as well as by OSCE Chairman Didier Bukhalter. High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini also called on Russia to take responsibility for the events in eastern Ukraine.
The newspaper notes that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's speech seemed rather reserved in comparison with those of the European politicians. Kerry stated that Washington does not intend to isolate Russia and the restoration of trust is still possible if Russia implements the Minsk Agreements, the peace accord signed in September. Kerry did not insist on returning to the Geneva format (Ukraine, the EU, the U.S. and Russia), which Moscow has made clear it does not like.
Kommersant also cites Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying that negotiations without representatives from the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine are unacceptable.
In another article Kommersant writes that OSCE members were unable to come to an agreement on the project declaring the situation in Ukraine. This was announced by OSCE Chairman Didier Bukhalter, who noted that the discussion on the problem demonstrated certain differences in evaluating the causes of the crisis. Later, Bukhalter told Kommersant that, despite the gradual convergence of positions during the discussion on the document, the consensus necessary to make it official was not reached. However, Bukhalter did not say which countries in particular had impeded the signing of the declaration. Kommersant sources in Russian diplomatic circles had earlier voiced their skepticism regarding the document, drawing attention to its “imbalance.”
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper cites Leonid Kuchma, Ukrainian representative to the contact group for negotiating a resolution to the Ukrainian crisis, as saying that next week in Minsk another round of negotiations may take place to regulate the situation in the Donbass. The leaders of the unrecognized Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics (DPR and LPR) have said that they intend to participate in the negotiations.
The newspaper notes that the self-proclaimed republics, having ignored the law passed by the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, on the special status of the territories they have occupied, are now demanding its implementation. In November the law was suspended because the leaders of the LPR and DPR continued their course toward independence and refused to cancel presidential and council elections in the republics.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta reminds its readers that Kiev did not recognize the results of these elections, after which Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko proposed that the Ukrainian Council of National Security and Defense cancel the law giving the Donbass region special status.
The law, which is formally still in effect, mentions, among other points, Ukraine's obligations to finance the region. Since the self-proclaimed republics have not carried out their obligations, Kiev has refused to carry out its own: since Dec. 1 government offices have been closed, subsidy lines have been shut down and salaries, pensions and welfare have not been paid in the territories under the command of the LPR and DPR.
The Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper reports that the majority of American legislators have accepted Resolution 758, condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine. The resolution has already been called "the beginning of the new Cold War," writes the newspaper.
Moskovsky Komsomolets explains that the fundamental points of the document are directed towards Russia and include providing the Ukrainian government with defensive and reconnaissance resources, ceasing cooperation with Moscow within the framework of NATO and its allies, as well as pressuring various governments to join "the anti-Russian sanction coalition."
According to the resolution, the U.S. will also insist that its allies refuse to grant Russian officials visas and freeze their foreign accounts, with the aim of having Russia change its policy on Ukraine.
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