Avakov presents strategy for Donbas de-occupation at US Institute of Peace

Avakov presents strategy for Donbas de-occupation at US Institute of Peace

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov presented at the US Institute for Peace the strategy for de-occupation of Donbas called “Small Steps Mechanism.”

As the Ministry’s press service reports, Avakov said that Russia had been waging a hybrid war against Ukraine for five years already. All means of stopping the active phase of aggression and restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine do not work, so the Interior Ministry proposes new mechanisms to help return the occupied territories of Donbas, he stressed.

“Our strategic mission is to restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We offer a new format that needs the support of the world community. We called our strategy for de-occupation and reintegration of Donbas "Small Steps Mechanism", because we believe that the desired result could be achieved only step by step," Avakov said.

As the minister explained, the strategy provides for the creation of a demilitarized security zone in a certain area of ​​the occupied territories. All military formations on both sides are disengaged. The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, with the support of a special international peacekeeping mission, takes control of this area and its borders. The law and order is ensured by the National Police, the National Guard of Ukraine and the monitoring mission. “Local elections are held in this territory. The main principle is the observance of Ukrainian legislation and ensuring of expression of free will. The activity of all government bodies, law enforcement agencies of Ukraine is resumed, security and law and order, social security, education, financial sphere, as well as decent living standards are restored,” he said.

The minister noted that the process of de-occupation could last from 6 to 8 months.

In turn, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker noted that the purpose of the civilized world is to restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

“For the years of Russian aggression against Ukraine, more people have been killed than during the Balkan war and the biggest number of internally displaced persons has been recorded since the World War II. We all must ensure security in Europe and must not allow the borders of other states to be changed. Russia denies its involvement in the conflict, but, according to our information, Russian officers hold leading positions there, Russian contract servicemen fight there. The Kremlin constantly carries out reconnaissance activities on the territory of Ukraine, though claiming that Ukraine and the separatists are parties to the conflict. We need a peacekeeping operation. However, we clearly understand that the Russians will not surrender and will not allow Ukraine to restore its sovereignty in the temporarily occupied territories. The main goal of the Russian Federation is to control Ukraine and prevent its integration into Europe,” Volker emphasized.

As Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov underscored, Ukraine is ready to have a dialogue and work on the liberation of its territories, but some points are not negotiable.

“We have only six points, on which we are not ready to make a compromise. The first such point is a change in the state structure of Ukraine – the issue of Ukraine as a federation must not be raised. The state border of Ukraine must be controlled exclusively by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. The residents of the de-occupied territories of Donbas are the citizens of Ukraine. The theory that "we will give you Donbas, and you will give us Crimea” is out of question. The persons, who have committed serious crimes, cannot be pardoned. And, of course, the Ukraine’s course for obtaining the EU and NATO membership is not negotiable,” he noted.

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