Breakthrough or betrayal: Ukraine may lift economic blockade of separatist-controlled areas?

At the next meeting, the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on the peaceful settlement of the situation in Donbas will consider the lifting of the economic blockade of separatist-controlled areas in Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

The proposal was voiced by Leonid Kuchma, a Ukrainian envoy in the TCG, OSCE representative Martin Sajdik said. It was also supported by the delegation of the separatist republics.

According to the OSCE Special Representative, lifting of the blockade could become a ‘major breakthrough’.

The economic sub-group has already been instructed to discuss the re-establishing of economic ties in case of Kyiv’s welcoming the decision to call off the blockade, quotes Russian envoy in TCG Boris Gryzlov.

When meeting with journalists, Kuchma did not say openly that the case was the removal of the economic blockade.

“We got a road map from the president of Ukraine. The president really wants to have peace in the region. I got corresponding instructions and came here… I voiced all the wishes I had heard from the president,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian ex-president Petro Poroshenko believes the proposal is nothing but a betrayal of national interests. In March 2017, Ukraine halted the economic contacts with the occupied areas in response to the capture of Ukrainian state-owned enterprises and the introduction of the Russian tax system, he recalled on Facebook.

“What has changed since then? Not a bit, there have been no concessions made by the invaders. It appears that the Ukrainian side is kneeling down, as once Zelensky said?” Poroshenko wondered.

Petro Poroshenko demands that Volodymyr Zelensky should explain to the Ukrainian nation ‘on what grounds he issued such directives to the delegation of Ukraine’.

The talks of the Trilateral Contact Group was resumed on June, 5. Two weeks ago, the Ukrainian media announced ‘resetting’ Minsk groups. President Zelensky introduced a new team of negotiators; Leonid Kuchma, a former president of Ukraine (1994-2005), again led the Ukrainian side in the Trilateral Contact Group.

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