19:30 GMT28 November 2020
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    Ukraine's parliament has adopted, in the first reading of the bill, the reintegration of the Donbass region in the southeast of Ukraine and extended its special status for one year.

    KIEV (Sputnik) — According to a statement on the parliament's website, the bill, backed by 233 lawmakers, was approved with the amendments eschewing the Minsk agreements. The initial version suggested that these agreements should serve as the main guideline for the policy on Donbass, but now the bill proposes to focus on the UNSC Resolution on the region.

    The bill also describes Russia as an "aggressor."

    Russian officials have protested against this description, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that it did not correspond to the reality of the conflict.

    Russia's Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Alexander Lukashevich commented on the move, saying that Moscow believes that replacing the law on the special status of Donbass with a document that does not comply with the Minsk agreements would lead to an escalation of the situation in the region.

    "The introduction of the law on the special status of Donbas in 2014 would have led to a speedy settlement of the conflict. But it was not implemented either after the signing of the Package of Measures or after the Normandy format agreement of the 'Frank-Walter Steinmeier formula' in October 2015," Lukashevich said.

    "Replacement of that law by a document that contradicts the Package of Measures is the path of escalation, not settlement," he said at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council.

    Lukashevich also said Russia did not see any positive steps on the part of Kiev to settle the situation in Donbass on the basis of the Minsk agreements.

    On Wednesday, Poroshenko introduced the bill on Donbass reintegration in the country's parliament. According to the parliament's website, "the draft bill on the characteristics of state policy regarding ensuring Ukraine's sovereignty over temporally-occupied territories in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions" has been determined by the Ukrainian president as an urgent one. Poroshenko also introduced a bill aimed at extending the special status of Donbass by a year.

    Meanwhile, Russia's Investigative Committee has initiated a number of new criminal cases over shelling of civilian facilities in Donbass by Ukrainian servicemen, committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said Friday.

    "Another four criminal cases have been launched under Article 356 Part 1 of Russia's Criminal Code (use of prohibited means and methods of warfare)," Petrenko said.

    bill, Donbass, Ukraine
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