Donetsk, Mar 11 - DAN. Kiev representatives’ absurd statements amid ongoing strikes can make the gulf between Ukraine and Donbass unbridgeable, Donetsk People’s Republic representative at the Contact Group talks, DPR Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova said on Thursday.

Earlier, Ukraine’s Donbass “Reintegration” Minister Alexey Reznikov told the Obozrevatel online publication that “for Russia, Donbass is a geopolitical bargaining chip.” “The Russians block all positive things, make speeches at all levels alleging that Ukraine is not implementing the Minsk Agreements,” Reznikov said.

“It also comes to absolutely absurd remarks such as ‘the Russians block all positive things.’ We’d like to hear from Mr Reznikov two things, firstly: is the Ukrainian leadership and he himself are aware, as Minsk talks participants, that the parties to the Donbass conflict are Kiev and Donbass, and by no means Russia? Secondly: what is meant by ‘positive things’? Does Kiev view its destructive behavior at the talks, its refusal to finalise the package of tighter ceasefire control measures, its unwillingness to consider our Road Map draft, and its cynical approach toward blocking the passage of humanitarian aid as “positive things?” Nikonorova said in a statement received by the Donetsk News Agency.

The DPR diplomat said that Reznikov’s remark that “for Russia, Donbass is a geopolitical bargaining chip” was absurd. “Probably, it was Reznikov’s Freudian slip because it is Ukraine that views Donbass only as a tool to obtain financial, administrative and military advantages from western ‘partners’,” she said.

Nikonorova said that even Ukrainian representatives openly confirmed that their key geopolitical task was to prolong and expand sanctions against Russia. Nearly all statements by Reznikov keep mentioning that “nobody’s going to lift sanctions from Russia.” In the meantime, only cursory remarks are made regarding conflict escalation or victims.

“So we recommend Mr Reznikov not to exercise in putting a brave face on a sorry business, but directly acknowledge the existing circumstances: as it is, the gulf between Ukraine and Donbass is tremendous. Kiev, with its treacherous strikes and absolute loathing to honestly participate in a peaceful settlement is just a step away from making this gulf fully unbridgeable,” she said.

Earlier, Nikonorova said that Ukraine in the Contact Group was going the way of threats and blackmail instead of substantial work on settling the Donbass conflict.

The Agreements dated September 5 and 19, 2014 and February 12, 2015 forged by the Contact Group in Minsk make groundwork for a peaceful settlement of the Donbass conflict. The Contact Group set forth a peace plan and agreed a ceasefire, then adopted the Memorandum on ceasefire implementation and later on the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

The Package of Measures envisions a constitutional reform in Ukraine that provides for deep decentralization taking into account the specificities of certain areas in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, agreed with the representatives of these areas (Article 11).*jk