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Ukraine's Zelenskyy Explains the "Steinmeier Formula"
6 October, 2019

Following the announcement that Ukraine agreed to the so-called "Steinmeier formula" at the beginning of October, the news led to protests throughout Ukraine. In the late hours of October 3, Volodymyr Zelenskyy released a video explaining what his motivation was in an attempt to calm the nation. The full script can be found below.

Dear Ukrainians!

I might disappoint some of you, but there will be no betrayal. And this is why. Hear me out, please. 

Let’s start with the main thing: do we want the war to end, and all Ukrainian territories back? Yes, we do. 

Currently, there is only one stage where these issues can be discussed at the highest level: it is the Normandy format meeting. 

Could it have taken place in the near future? No.

Why? There was one barrier in the way, the greatest scare story of the past few weeks: the Steinmeier formula.

Let’s clarify what this formula is.

Does it stipulate that Ukraine recognizes annexation of Crimea and gives up on the Donbas? No.

Does it stipulate for the elections in the occupied Donbas to take place at gunpoint tomorrow? No.

Why did the previous president of Ukraine announce beginning work on the implementation of this formula three years ago? Did he intend to betray Ukraine?

This formula provides for one thing: when the so-called Law on the Donbas Special Status should come into force. Namely, after the local elections take place there in compliance with the Constitution of Ukraine, Ukrainian law and after the OSCE publishes a report that states that the elections were held according to the international democratic standards. This is what we agreed to in Minsk.

Did we sign any joint agreements with the so-called "DPR" or "LPR"? No.

We sent a separate letter to the [Special Representative of the OSCE] Mr. Sajdik wherein we affirmed agreement of the positions in the text of this formula. 

 What’s next?

Elections in the Donbas tomorrow? No

Next up is a Normandy format meeting with the President of France, the German Chancellor and the President of the Russian Federation where we will discuss ways of ending the war in the Donbas.  

My position on this issue is clear and understandable. And it concurs with the position of all Ukrainians.

We all understand that Donbas is Ukraine. Peace must prevail there. There must be a total ceasefire, foreign military formations must be disengaged.

We all understand that the Ukraine-Russia border on our side must be guarded by Ukrainian border patrol. An exchange of prisoners must take place so that all our citizens return home. Elections must be held not at gunpoint, but according to the Ukrainian legislation, with access for candidates from Ukrainian political forces, for Ukrainian media and international observers. With all the internally displaced persons having the right to exercise their right to vote. 

All this will be discussed at the Normandy format meeting. Will a new Law on the Special Status of the Donbas be signed there? No. This law is in effect until December 31, 2019. 

There will be a new law. Will it be swiftly drafted and approved? No. We will write it together. In cooperation and with public discussion with the entire Ukrainian society. No red lines will be crossed. Hence, no capitulation, no surrender of the national interests of Ukraine, no fixed agreements and no global steps without the consent of the people of Ukraine. Only the return of our people and our territories. Return of prisoners and return of peace.          

Ahead of us, we have a long and winding road to the resolution of this problem. And we have to walk it together. And we need unity here. I respect the constitutional right of each Ukrainian to protest. I hear you, and, trust me, I will never give up Ukraine. At the same time, I implore you to be level-headed and calm with regard to the situation. Don't give in to manipulations and provocations of certain people. They really want to exploit you and return the right to steal, become "victims of political persecution", and avoid criminal liability. This will not happen. Everything will be Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine!