Servant of the People Talks Straight
Servant of the People deputy Maksim Tkachenko cuts to the chase about the current situation in Ukraine’s Donbas
We want an end to the war and the return of all Ukrainian territories. For this to happen, only one platform exists: a serious and in-depth discussion in the Normandy format.
Our position on this matter is clear and transparent, and in line with the wishes of the majority of Ukrainians: first and foremost, Donbas is Ukraine. Most importantly, peace must come to this territory.
What does this mean?
There must be an immediate and complete ceasefire and the withdrawal of all foreign military formations is non-negotiable.
Along the internationally recognised Ukrainian-Russian border, Ukrainian border guards need to be positioned on the Ukrainian side.
An exchange of all prisoners must take place; all Ukrainian citizens must be allowed to return home.
Maksim Tkachenko is a public and cultural figure, and Member of Parliament in the party Servant of the People since 21 July 2019. He is the First Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Human Rights, Decoccupation and Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories in Donetsk, Luhansk, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the City of Sevastopol, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations, and internally displaced persons, and is on the subcommittee for the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
Elections must not be held at gunpoint. Elections must be held according to Ukrainian law, where citizens have access to Ukrainian political candidates and access to Ukrainian mass media; where international observers are welcome and every eligible voter, including internally displaced persons, is allowed the right to vote.
What we see from the side of our international partners is that support for Ukraine is on the rise. The international community supports a course of action that sees a diplomatic solution to the conflict. This support comes from France, Germany, and the European Union, and that support is at the highest level, including officials and leaders of these states. These friends of Ukraine recognise the need for new negotiations in the Normandy format, and regret that they have not commenced much sooner.
In my opinion, the previous government implemented an incomprehensible approach, disagreeing with partners’ proposals (the Steinmeier formula, for example), and they were unable to come up with their own solutions towards returning peace to the Donbas. The result is that Vladimir Putin has continued to avoid top-level negotiations following the Second Minsk Agreement (in February of 2015), and instead has continued military operations under the false pretence that Russia is “not there”. As a result, specifically since the second Minsk Agreement was signed, some
8 000 Ukrainians have been killed.
What we see now is that while our international partners support the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the peace process is deadlocked. What we hope this means that they, our international partners, have not forgiven Russia for the continued violence they have inflicted on Ukraine, and that the situations with both Donbas and Crimea have not been forgotten. In terms of action needed now, the hope is that fresh talks in Paris, though tough, will bear fruit.
The road to peace will not be fast. It will be long and complicated. But we have to walk it together. Just like the air we breathe, peace and unity are necessary to all of us. Pragmatically, as never before, this situation requires restraint and prudence, where the temptation to get dragged into provocations and manipulations must be resisted.