WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The Austrian diplomat asserted that despite continued tensions in parts of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donbass and Lugansk, progress toward security has been made.
"We will have our next meeting on the 21st, next week. It will be the last one this year," Sajdik said, referring to the OSCE Trilateral Contact Group. "We hope that we will have some interesting results. … We just cannot finish the year without at least some results that convince the people that this process in Minsk is further necessary."
The regions have been in turmoil since April 2014, when authorities in Kiev launched a military operation against pro-independence militias in Donbass. In February 2015, the two sides agreed to a ceasefire after talks brokered by the leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine – the so-called Normandy Format – in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.
The deal stipulates withdrawal of weapons from the line of contact in eastern Ukraine, an all-for-all prisoner exchange and constitutional reforms that would confer special status on the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics. Both sides in the conflict, however, have consistently accused each other of violating the ceasefire terms.