Ukraine opposes the disengagement of troops along the entire contact line in Donbas, as it contradicts the essence of the Minsk agreements and will freeze the conflict, Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zahorodniuk has said in an interview with the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
"We oppose disengagement all over the contact line, because such a path is wrong and contrary to the very essence of the Minsk agreements. Who to disengage with if they have to disarm? In fact, there are many reasons, but this is a major one. It's like different tracks that don't coincide," Zahorodniuk said.
According to the minister, disengagement along the 410-km-long contact line can take years. "And how can you hold the disengagement process for years? It would turn into a frozen conflict. And we categorically oppose the recognition of a frozen conflict. Some politicians have said and are saying now: 'Let's recognize it as a frozen conflict.' This is the wrong way because it actually fixes the agreement with the current situation and says: 'Well, everything suits us, it does not suit us formally, but we agree that it should be like that.' Then tension is relieved, no one talks about returning territories or talks very sluggishly, and tension is relieved from the entire international community, the lobby for the lifting of sanctions begins, and all this will last for decades," Zahorodniuk said.
According to him, if the Minsk agreements are implemented, there is no point in the disengagement of troops along the entire contact line. He recalled that there were no conflicts in eastern Ukraine before 2014, there was no persecution on ethnic or linguistic grounds. "This is a conflict that was created in 2014 artificially. It can be ended in the same way as it was created. If the Minsk agreements are implemented, then there is no point in the complete disengagement of troops along the entire line," he said.
Zahorodniuk said that the Ukrainian side had submitted proposals and determined new disengagement areas last year. He also reiterated that disengagement might occur at individual points only as a humanitarian component.
The Ukrainian side earlier proposed four new disengagement areas to representatives of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk, in particular, near a railway bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska, near Avdiivka, Novoselivka Druha and near the Hnutove checkpoint.
Russia, in turn, insists on conducting the disengagement of troops near the settlements of Shchastia, Veselohorivka, Rozsadka, Hnutove and Shyrokyne, as well as near Avdiivka.
The next meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group is scheduled for January 29.