German and French foreign ministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Jean-Marc Ayrault earlier proposed holding the meeting in Minsk and OSCE representative in the Contact Group on Ukraine, Martin Sajdik, had also hoped to hold the meeting in the Belarusian capital.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was ready to join in if all the other participants did the same.
“I don’t expect any breakthroughs, much less a final roadmap coming from Tuesday’s meeting in Minsk,” Chesnakov said.
He mentioned the widening rift between the representatives of the four nations on finding “realistic” ways to end the conflict in Donbass.
“The European negotiators started off by actively putting the issues of a political settlement on the back burner. Next, they, together with the Ukrainian representatives, insisted on all kinds of humanitarian and economic provisions to be added to the text of the roadmap,” Chasnakov said, adding that this had seriously complicated the work on the final document and the entire process of a peaceful solution to the conflict.
Alexei Chesnakov accused the European participants of sidelining political issues while prioritizing humanitarian ones as a means of putting pressure on Russia and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
“The authors of this proposal are driving themselves into a trap because neither Russia nor the Donbass republics will accept this. But even if they do, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics will most certainly make it conditional on lifting the economic blockade and repealing by the Ukrainian parliament of all laws banning trade between Ukraine and these two republics,” Alexei Chasnakov noted.
He described the European and Ukrainian insistence on including economic and humanitarian issues in the final draft of the roadmap as an attempt to draw out the negotiations.
“Well, they could draw up a separate document on economic and humanitarian issues, but these should not be mixed with political and security issues outlined in the final text of the peace roadmap. This would draw out the whole process and make any final agreement impossible,” Alexei Chesnakov said, adding that any further Ukrainian and European pressure to include humanitarian and economic issues in the roadmap would only mean that Russia and the Donetsk republics are the only ones interested in a long-lasting settlement of the conflict.
The Minsk deal stipulates constitutional reforms in Ukraine, as well as a ceasefire and weapons withdrawals. One of the key points of the peace deal is the decentralization of power in the country and granting special status to Lugansk and Donetsk. The reforms were to be concluded before the end of 2015.