President Zelenskyy on Minsk: Withdrawals, Normandy, and the Steinmeier Formula
1 October, 2019

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, at a recent briefing, outlined the recent steps his administration has taken in an effort to conform to the Minsk process.

  • An agreement on the withdrawal of troops from the towns of Petrivske and Zolote

  • The construction of a pedestrian bridge at Stanytsia Luhanska, to be completed by November

  • Final steps for the preparation of holding a summit in the Normandy format, with dates to be announced soon

READ MORE: “Zelenskyy Plan Must Be Put on Paper” – Ukraine FM Prystaiko

The president stressed that the Steinmeier formula will only apply to local elections, held under Ukrainian law, and those elections would only be counted as legitimate if they are confirmed by the OSCE to conform to international democratic norms, adding that in order for elections to be held, Ukraine must have control of the Russian border.

“There will not, and cannot, be elections held under the barrel of a rifle,” emphasized the president, adding that the law on the special status of the occupied territories will be replaced by a new law, still in the draft phase. 

However, these requirements are not yet in writing, though the president confirmed that they will be. “If [armed forces] are still present, there will be no elections,” the president said, noting this as one of the main points for discussion during the Normandy summit.

The president also repeated his previous statements regarding pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump: “...I have never accepted any pressure on me. There are a lot of people, in the West and in Ukraine, that would like to pressure me. But the president of an independent Ukraine...and pressuring me is impossible,” though Zelenskyy added that he did not receive an answer to why the United States has yet to release military aid to Ukraine.

READ MORE: Ukraine’s Zelenskyy Invites Putin to Hold Talks on Donbas in Minsk

As for Rudy Giuliani, the U.S. President’s personal lawyer who had previously attempted to set up a meeting with the Ukrainian president, Zelenskyy claimed that he had never met, nor had a phone call with, Giuliani. Text messages between the former U.S. Special Representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Giuliani reveal, however, that Volker offered to set up a meeting between the lawyer and Andriy Yermak, an advisor for international relations for President Zelenskyy. It is unknown whether that meeting occurred, and neither Yermak nor Volker have commented on the matter at press time.

READ MORE: Zelenskyy Asks Putin to Influence "That Side" Over Deadly Donbas Shelling

/By Romeo Kokriatski