News from Ukraine: U.S. insists on 'special status' for militant-held Donbas

20:03 Apr. 26, 2016

U.S. insists on 'special status' for militant-held Donbas

Victoria Nuland (UNIAN Photo)

Local elections and militant amnesty are also on agenda - Ukraine's MP says after meeting with Victoria Nuland

U.S. insists Ukraine should amend its Constitution to introduce a 'special status' for the militant-held territories in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, secure amnesty for militants and hold local elections in the conflict zone in July this year.

It is reported by the press service of the party Samopomich (Self-help), whose representative Victoria Voytsitska was at the meeting with United States Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland.

Read also U.S. Assistant Secretary of State to arrive in Kyiv on April 25

According to Voytsitska, these key messages topped the agenda of the meeting between Nuland and Ukraine's MPs: "The U.S. State Department insists that Ukraine should amend its Constitution with a 'special status' for the Donetsk and Luhansk occupied territories, run local elections there in the nearest future and provide amnesty to militants. Minsk agreements should have been implemented by the end of 2016, the ceasefire deal has no alternative option", according to UNIAN

The MP added that "we have to understand that heavy weapons won't be withdrawn."

"Heavy weapons should be 'stored  away' and monitored by the special OSCE mission. We are told that if we hold local elections, it will create a precedent when Russian troops - for the first time in their history - voluntarily leave the territory they occupied. However, there is no guarantee that Russian troops will withdraw (from Ukraine)", added Voytsitska.

Read also Intricacies of elections in non-government controlled areas of Eastern Ukraine

Samopomich members note, if Ukraine sticks to the Minsk deal and adopts the electoral law for the occupied territories in May, sanctions against Russia will at best be extended in June for nine months until January 2017.

"The Donbas elections are expected to take place in July - these are the key messages", the report says.

Voytsitska makes a sad conclusion: the lifting of sanctions is linked not to the illegal annexation of Crimea and occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk areas, but amendments to Ukraine's Constitution and local elections on Russia's - in fact - occupied territory.

Watch also 'Militants use local elections to legitimize themselves' - analyst

Samopomich believes that Ukraine should recognize these areas as 'occupied by Russia and Russia as an invader country', no matter if international sanctions against Russia are lifted or extended. 

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