Donetsk and Lugansk are neutral about the results of negotiations in Paris – the Republics hope that Kiev fulfils all its commitments, including political commitments under Minsk accords. Donbass is ready to fulfil its obligations – they are already coordinating the exchange lists with Kiev.
“I talk to him. How are you, my dear? I kiss him, communicate with him,” says a woman.
She is the mother of a miner who joined the militia and ended up in Ukrainian captivity; and she wants to hug him, not his photograph.
“What do I feel as a mother? I feel worried, I cry, I miss him and pray for him. I go to church. The God helped,” she says.
As soon as she found out that the exchange will be held soon, she cried, for the whole day. This time, she cried with happiness. There are dozens of mothers like her both in Donbass and in Ukraine.
The Republics exchanged the lists with Kiev. Donbass is ready to hand over 53 persons, Ukraine – 88. The principle is “all identified for all identified”. The lists, however, may be amended.
“We have information about 160 more detainees in the territory of Ukraine. They are from the lists of the years 2014, 2015, 2016. We are waiting for a response from the Ukrainian side concerning these people,” told Daria Morozova, the Human Rights Ombudsman in the DPR.
The preliminary date for the exchange of prisoners – December 24 – was announced in Paris. Donbass is ready for this procedure. As it is ready for the withdrawal of forces.
But Ukraine has been slow with this. Mortar attacks, including against residential buildings, by the Ukrainian forces, continued even on the day of the Paris meeting. Yesterday, they violated ceasefire seven times. It is clear why people live in basements and bomb shelters along the line of contact.
This is one of the bomb shelters where people still live during all five years. Here are sleeping places on the benches, small icons on the wall next to the memo showing how to behave in case of emergency.
People here are tired of war and want politicians to come to an agreement. Donetsk and Lugansk authorities are ready for this. But Kiev beats about the bush.
“Without direct negotiations between the parties to the conflict – Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk – it isn’t possible to resolve the conflict. As for the withdrawal of forces and hardware, we are disappointed because Ukraine has ignored the agreements at the level of the “Normandy format” leaders’ assistants where it was agreed on a complete separation of forces,” said Denis Pushilin, head of the DPR.
Instead of a complete disengagement, Ukraine proposed to withdraw forces from three more areas. This isn’t enough. But at least something, so Donbass agreed on that and they’ll discuss the issue more specifically at the next Minsk meeting.