In June 2019, the newly elected President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, offered Leonid Kuchma again to become Ukraine’s representative/spokesperson at the talks in Minsk.
Negotiations began on the fifth of June at thirteenth day and lasted more than four hours. The main and most discussed event was the proposal of former President Leonid Kuchma to lift the economic blockade from the Donbas. This proposal was supported by ORLO and ORDO (new name of DPR and LPR) participants.
The Special Representative assured that lifting the blockade would change the situation and will help a lot for conflict resolution.
The Russian representative, Boris Gryzlov, confirmed that negotiations had been made to lift the blockade, and also said that the economic group would take up the plan.
Leonid Kuchma also actively participated in the discussion of questions on the exchange of prisoners of war. Confirmed that on the next meeting, on June 19, a ceasefire agreement should be signed.
After the talks, Leonid Danilovich emphasized that all the meetings were quite constructive.
Kuchma and the military conflict
We remind that from the very beginning of the armed conflict in the East of Ukraine, Leonid Danilovich carried out the mission of a peacekeeper.
- On June 23, 2014, he represented Ukraine at the talks in Donbass, on which they managed to agree for the first time on the ceasefire.
- Subsequently, Leonid Danilovich became the official representative of Ukraine at the Minsk negotiations. As of September 2018, it was the only participant in the talks on the part of Ukraine.
- The first meeting in Minsk took place on September 5, 2014. During this meeting, the Minsk Protocol was signed, which included, first of all, the cease-fire in the territory of Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts.
- For all his work, peacekeeper Kuchma has made about a hundred trips to Minsk.
But on September 28, 2018, Leonid Danilovich announced his intention to leave the Trilateral Contact Group. He lived due to the achievement of his elderly age. He thanked his colleagues and expressed gratitude to the Belarusian side for the organization of peace talks.
His place was taken by Yevhen Marchuk, a Ukrainian statesman, who since November 21 has represented Ukraine in the Trilateral Contact Group.
In June 2019, Kuchma explained the reasons for returning to peacekeeping cases. First and foremost, this is an intensification of disputes within the state. The ex-president said that he strongly disagree with this development of events.
The second reason is to get them bigger powers to work fully in the Minsk group. Because before that Leonid Danilovich has noticed that he does not intend to work as a “after-dinner speaker” (the non-executive figurehead), but wishes to make efforts to solve the urgent problems of Ukraine.
Kuchma also agreed with the words of Volodymyr Zelensky that all arrangements should have clear deadlines. But he added that Ukraine, for its part, also has to adhere to these terms.
On June 19, a regular meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group took place. At the meeting, Leonid Danilovich emphasized that the work of the state should be bilateral. All state processes must be based on the principles of solidarity. And only after Ukraine’s assets return to the Ukrainian legal field may be a review of the decision of the National Security and Defense Council to introduce a trade restriction on the occupied regions of Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts.
During the meeting, it was often stressed that for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements it is necessary “to carry out a security block of questions”.
Also discussed were the silence regime, the release of captive Ukrainians, as well as urgent infrastructure issues, such as the stable water supply of residents of Donetsk and Lugansk region.