Russia Calling! Investment Forum
On October 13 Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the 7th Russia Calling! Investment Forum organized by VTB Capital. Although the forum is devoted to financial topics, international community took this opportunity to ask the President several questions on the most burning issues of today.
Jacob Grapengiesser from East Capital asked the President to comment on the situation in Ukraine. He was interested if the current ceasefire in Ukraine is stable, will the Minsk Agreements be fulfilled and if there is a chance that Europe will lift the sanctions against Russia?
Vladimir Putin replied: «Concerning the last question, you’ll have to ask Europe, or those who issue the relevant orders in a slightly different place.
As far as Ukraine is concerned, I already said this and want to say it again: there is no alternative to the Minsk Agreements. But it’s been constantly stated that Russia should fulfill them – it’s becoming downright awkward. You see, it’s just not serious, it’s not funny, it’s simply awkward.
The most important element that must become the foundation of the peace settlement in southeast Ukraine is the political process. And what is a political process? It has three to five components.
First, and this is stated in the Minsk Agreements, is amending the Constitution on a permanent basis in agreement with Donetsk and Lugansk. There have been no amendments so far, and whatever has been done at the preliminary stage has not been agreed upon with either Lugansk or Donetsk. At the same time, we are told about Ukrainian domestic policy limitations. However, there are limitations everywhere, but there is also an obligation to fulfill the Minsk Agreements. This does not depend on us; it depends on the United States, Europe and Kiev. Incidentally, this should be done on a permanent basis.
A law on the special status of these territories has been submitted within the transitional provisions. And we are told: this is on a permanent basis. But everyone forgot that this law itself was adopted for only three years – a year has already passed. It is not our role to give this law a permanent status.
Furthermore, they need to adopt a law on amnesty. It’s stated so right in the Minsk Agreements. But we, here in Moscow, cannot adopt a Ukrainian law on amnesty. And how can political dialogue be conducted with people who are under threat of criminal prosecution? Are we supposed to do this? Why are we constantly told that we need to fulfill the Minsk Agreements? Why substitute these concepts and these problems and transfer the responsibility for their resolutions to us? Why is this being done, if we truly want to achieve the fulfillment of the Minsk Agreements and solve the problem on that basis? And that is the only way it can be solved.
Finally, the law on the special status for governing these territories. It says right in the Minsk Agreements: within 30 days after signing, a Rada resolution must be adopted and implemented. Have they done this? Formally, they have. They adopted the Rada decision, but they added Article 10 to the law, without verifying it with Donbass, and the Rada once again postponed the adoption of this law from Article 2 through 9. In other words, they essentially created this ploy. They adopted it, used it formally, but in reality they cancelled it again. Is this our doing? We understand that there are internal political limitations but the Minsk Agreements must nevertheless be fulfilled.
The law on elections. The Minsk Agreements say that the law on local elections must be agreed upon with Donbass. The Rada adopted a law on local elections without any consultations with Donbass, in spite of the fact that Donbass has sent its drafts three times. They were ignored. They adopted a law and stated clearly in that law: local elections will not be held in these territories. Then what did the people living there do? They said, «Okay, then we will hold our own elections». That’s what happened. Kiev began asking them to delay the elections – all right, they agreed to delay the elections, they wanted to meet them halfway. But now, the efforts to adopt this law must be aligned. It will be a difficult process to find compromises, but it cannot be done otherwise. There are no problems there from our side. In spite of all the domestic policy limitations, this must be done, first and foremost, by our colleagues in Kiev. It needs to be done.
Finally, the economic rehabilitation of territories. There is a full embargo against those territories. They tell us, «Ensure that they allow Ukrainian humanitarian assistance to access those areas». While Donbass replies to us, «They should lift the embargo, and then no humanitarian assistance will be necessary». That’s the problem. There are many problems, but the overwhelming majority does not lie in our domain.
Do our colleagues in Europe and the United States see this? I think they do. I also have reason to believe that they see it clearly. But they are uncomfortable saying that the current authorities in Kiev are incapable of resolving it. It’s much easier to blame it on us and tell us to intensify something or other, to triple or increase it six-fold. What should we increase six-fold? We need our partners to fulfill their obligations; the same is true of those who can influence them. We believe that by working together, we will ultimately achieve a positive resolution».