On June 11, a regular meeting of the foreign ministers of the Normandy Format countries took place in Berlin. The participants discussed at length the situation in the conflict zone in south-eastern Ukraine. The central topic was the implementation of the Package of Measures to Implement the Minsk Agreements, signed on February 12, 2015.
The ministers analysed the implementation by the parties to the internal Ukrainian conflict – Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk – of their commitments under the Minsk Agreements. In view of the aggravated tensions in Donbass, Russia called attention to the fact that the Ukrainian side has intensified war preparations near the contact line and urged that a further escalation of violence be prevented.
For these purposes, it is necessary to secure speedy, unconditional compliance with all the existing agreements, including the framework agreement on the disengagement of forces, the withdrawal of heavy weapons and demining, which was signed on September 21, 2016. The Russian side demanded the unconditional return to the status quo in Zolotoye and Petrovskoye, following the disengagement of forces there in 2016, and the completion of disengagement in Stanitsa Luganskaya. After the withdrawal of heavy weapons, this will be an important step towards securing a durable ceasefire in conformity with the Minsk Agreements and the further withdrawal of weapons and demining.
Special attention was reserved for the political aspects of the settlement. Mr Lavrov emphasised the need to make official the agreement reached during the Normandy Format summit in Paris on October 2, 2015, and confirmed by the Normandy Format leaders in Berlin on October 19, 2016, on the procedure for enacting the law on special status for Donbass, better known as the Steinmeier formula. On a related note, the participants stressed the importance of the Minsk Contract Group that offers Kiev an opportunity to conduct direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk as stipulated by the Minsk Agreements. Socio-economic and humanitarian matters and the further exchange of detainees were also discussed.
There was a meaningful discussion on the parameters of the possible role of the United Nations in resolving the crisis in Ukraine. Mr Lavrov again drew attention to a draft UN Security Council resolution, circulated by Russia in September 2017, regarding a UN mission to protect observers of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.