The United States’ threats to tighten anti-Russian sanctions for what it may interpret as default on the Minsk Accords are absurd, because Kiev is the main brake on the peace process, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.
"Our US and European partners are saying: ‘If the Minsk Accords are honored, we will lift sanctions from Russia. We have stated more than once that we are not asking anyone for the lifting of sanctions. It is up to them to decide. They introduced the sanctions on an absolutely preposterous pretext. It’s a matter of their conscience. Just feel the logic of it. They say: ‘If the Minsk Accords are complied with, then the sanctions will be lifted, and if not, then Russia should be punished ever stronger. In the meantime, a closer look at who complies with the Minsk Accords and who does not makes it clear that Kiev is the main brake on the Minsk process. It turns out that the longer Kiev disrupts the implementation of the Minsk Accords, the more excuses the West invents to go ahead with pressure on Russia. That’s real absurd," Lavrov said.
“Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said that Kiev would not have a direct dialog with representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk, as, he says, Russia wants,” Lavrov continued.
“Ukrainian officials, like Dmytro Yarosh, appear with threats that they will take the east of Ukraine away from terrorists and separatists. People in Donetsk and Lugansk are called terrorists just because they wish to live in their native land the way they are used to live. In fact, those in Kiev are creating an atmosphere of rejection of the culture and the lifestyle of those living in the east,” Lavrov said.
The minister mentioned that Moscow speaks against watering down the Contact Group on Ukraine format and engaging “some experts” from aside.
Meantime, Russia believes that pullout of weapons with a caliber lower than 100 mm and tanks will be carried out by Ukraine. “At a meeting of ministers of the Normandy Four a week ago, such Russia’s initiative was supported. Military men from the parties on the site should coordinate the procedures and time limits with the OSCE’s assistance,” the foreign minister mentioned.
“We hope this pullout will take place,” he added, saying that withdrawal of this category of weapons will reduce the risk of resumption of fire.