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Ex-president: Russia wants Donbass elections to be held at any cost

"It needs to be Ukrainian territory with Ukrainian laws."

Ex-president: Russia wants Donbass elections to be held at any cost
Photo: Photo: telegraf.com.ua

The second president of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, who represents the country at the peace talks in Minsk, says Russia wants elections in Donbass to be held as soon as possible and at any cost.

The Kremlin needs it to be able to say they have done their part of the deal and demand that EU lifted the sanctions - and let Ukrainians to clear the mess, the former president told reporters on the sidelines of the international conference Yalta European Strategy (YES) on 16 September.

"We would get a territory with 46 thousand troops armed to the teeth, armed heavier than the Ukrainian army, and with borders not controlled by Ukraine," Kuchma said.

He expressed confidence that Donbas elections should be carried out only when there is certainty that it is Ukrainian territory with Ukrainian laws, and where elections can be held "that would at least 90% meet international standards."

Kuchma stated in support of President Poroshenko's earlier statement that the political aspects of Minsk agreements should not be a priority.

He criticized the recent initiatives of separatist authorities about a week-long trial ceasefire: "This is a deception of the international community."

Holding elections in the occupied regions of Donbass was one of Ukraine's commitments in the Minsk Agreements. Ukraine believes, however, that no elections can be held in Donbas before a comprehensive ceasefire and deployment of an armed OSCE police mission.