We view the agreed reciprocal release of persons held in custody on the territories of Russia and Ukraine as a positive signal to be followed by other important steps to overcome the current deadlock in Russia-Ukraine relations and in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.
It was made possible by fulfilling the agreements reached personally by the presidents of Russia and Ukraine. Unlike its predecessors, Vladimir Zelensky’s administration showed a reasonable approach and readiness to compromise.
We hope this step will create a positive background for substantive work within the Minsk Contact Group and in the Normandy format.
We firmly believe that human life must remain an unquestioned value, not an object of political games. It is unacceptable that ordinary people, Ukrainian citizens who happened to be at the epicentre of the intra-Ukrainian conflict should remain hostages to the ambitions of political elites.
To successfully resolve accumulated system-wide problems in Ukraine’s southeast, the local people must first of all feel a change in the attitude towards them that should manifest itself in the cessation of shelling, lifting of the economic and transport blockade, and restoring social payments and pensions.
It is clear that the habit of blaming Russia for all of Ukraine’s troubles should become a thing of the past. The ongoing anti-Russia rhetoric will not help the country solve its very real domestic political and economic problems. Russia, as a guarantor of the Minsk Agreements, reaffirms its readiness to further support any constructive actions towards reaching accord between the parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict. Ukraine’s new authorities should play a key role in normalising the situation in the country. To do that, they need political will.
We hope that the agreed reciprocal release of prisoners will consolidate all sound political forces in Ukraine around the idea of quickly putting an end to the bloody conflict and normalising neighbourly relations with Russia.