MINSK, Belarus – A top pro-Russian rebel said on Friday, May 22 that a new round of Ukraine crisis talks had resulted in no breakthrough but would continue in the coming weeks.
The chief negotiator of the self-declared Lugansk People’s Republic said the European-mediated talks got stuck on the crucial issue of when and under what terms Ukraine’s two renegade eastern provinces could conduct their own elections.
“We discussed the elections but stumbled on many obstacles,” Vladislav Deinego told reporters after the latest round of talks in the Belarussian capital Minsk.
“I hope that we can find a consensus.”
A new February ceasefire agreement that all sides accepted under strong pressure from the leaders of Germany and France opened the way for the war-ravaged Lugansk and Donetsk regions to enjoy broader autonomy within a unified Ukraine.
But the details of how this process would work were never spelled out and some fighting across the east still continues.
Ukraine insists that no local elections can be held in the rebel-run parts of its industrial heartland until Kiev secures full control of the Russian border and all Russian fighters leave the war zone.
The rebels want to hold the vote sooner while the Kremlin denies covertly funneling weapons and army units across the porous frontier with its southwestern neighbor in order to unsettle Kiev’s pro-Western leadership.
Friday’s talks in Minsk were relatively low-level discussions involving members of a special task force devoted to political settlement issues.
Two similar meetings in Minsk earlier this months address the insurgents’ economic and humanitarian assistance concerns.
Donetsk separatist negotiator Denis Pushilin said the next full-scale Minsk meeting involving Ukraine’s former leader Leonid Kuchma – President Petro Poroshenko’s personal envoy to the talks – has been provisionally scheduled for June 2. – Rappler.com
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