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US Envoy for Ukraine Says Minsk Deal Not Working Efficiently

© Photo : Ukrainian Defence MinistryUS special Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker and US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in Donbass, July 23, 2017
US special Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker and US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in Donbass, July 23, 2017 - Sputnik International
The US special representative for Ukraine has commented on the extension of a law on the special status of Donbass, as well as the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

MOSCOW, October 6 (Sputnik) — US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker believes that the Minsk agreements on the de-escalation of the Ukrainian crisis are not efficient.

Volker told Gazeta.Ru news outlet that the Minsk accords had failed to put an end to armed clashes in Donbass, where people still die every week. The parties have not made any sufficient progress in enforcing the ceasefire and making concrete political steps, including holding elections in the region, Washington's representative said.

Volker also said in the interview that Washington was hopeful that US-Russia consultations would help overcome the stall, implement the Minsk accords and halt the conflict, the media reported.

He also praised Ukraine extending the law on special status of Donbass, saying that it shows that Kiev is taking steps to achieve peace in the region, Volker said as the Ukrainian parliament approved extension of the region's special status by a year, proposed by President Petro Poroshenko. The parliament also approved the bill on reintegration of the region.

In 2014, within the framework of the Minsk peace accords, Ukraine pledged to provide certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions with a special status. The law was adopted, but not enforced. According to the law, certain areas of Donbass currently uncontrolled by Kiev would only get special status after local elections held under Ukrainian legislation and under control of international observers. Such elections were not held, therefore the special status did not come into effect. The law, adopted for a three-year period, was due to expire on October 18.

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On Thursday, Volker confirmed that he would meet Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov in Belgrade on October 7 to discuss "how to catalyze Minsk implementation and restore Ukraine's territorial integrity."

Kiev launched a military operation in the east of Ukraine in 2014, after local residents refused to recognize the new government that came to power in what they considered a coup. Despite the 2015 ceasefire deal signed between the conflicting parties in Minsk and brokered by the leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine, the so-called Normandy Format, the situation in the region remains tense.

Kiev has been reluctant to implement a number of Minsk deal provisions. Russia has repeatedly said that it is not a party to Ukraine's internal conflict and called on the West to influence Kiev in order to ensure Minsk agreements' implementation.

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