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Arsen Avakov Has Presented the Donbass De-Occupation Strategy Called "The Small Steps Mechanism" in the United States Institute Of Peace

Arsen Avakov said that Russia has been conducting a hybrid war against Ukraine for five years. All means of the aggression active phase termination and the return of the Ukrainian territory are not valid.

Therefore, the Minister of Internal Affairs offers new mechanisms that will help to return the occupied territories of the Donbas.

Arsen Avakov announced this today, on February 12, during a roundtable in the Institute of Peace (Washington, DC).

"Our strategic mission is to restore Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We offer a new format that needs the support of the world community. We called our strategy of de-occupation and reintegration of Donbas "the Small Steps Mechanism", because we believe that it is possible to achieve the desired result only step by step", - Arsen Avakov said.

He stressed that the introduction of the new strategy is preceded by a preparatory stage, namely the formation of the necessary legal framework, the introduction of a communication strategy, the definition of the status of the Special International Peacekeeping Mission, the establishment of monitoring programs, an advisory and resource assistance.

"We do not have a conflict on a religious basis, and there is no conflict on an ethnic basis. The conflict in Ukraine is imposed from the outside. Therefore, the peacekeeping mission, which will work, should be focused on this, as well as work together with Ukrainian law-enforcement officers and representatives of local communities", - Arsen Avakov emphasized.

The Minister explained that the Strategy envisages the creation of a demilitarized security zone in a separate section of the occupied territories. All military formations on both sides are drawn of behind a specified line. The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, with the support of a Special International Peacekeeping Mission, takes control over the designated territory and its borders. Law and order are provided by the forces of the National Police, the National Guard of Ukraine and the monitoring mission. "Local elections are held on this territory. The main principle is the observance of Ukrainian legislation and ensuring the right on free expression. The work of all state institutions, law enforcement agencies of Ukraine is restored, security and law and order, social security, education, financial sphere, and decent living standards are restored," - he said.

Arsen Avakov stressed that after the return of control over the territories, the environmental problems of the region are solved immediately. "When people will see that the Ukrainian government with the Ukrainian flag has come, and it has created transitional compromise conditions, provided the proper quality of life and security for these people - all other territories step by step will return to Ukraine", - said the Head of the MIA.

The Minister emphasized that the process of de-occupation on the first two areas may take from 6 to 8 months.

"After we successfully carry out the first five steps, we will be able to say about others as well. It depends on the quantity of our resources, namely from the number of peacekeepers and funds for the restoration of our territories. As for the difference between my plan, and the OSCE plan, as well as others. Not every plan will be adopted by Ukrainian society. Moreover, there cannot be any illusions, and no newly elected Ukrainian president will be pro-Russian and compromise. Because the Ukrainian people will not give him such opportunity. It is possible to adopt laws on colabarants and amnesty, it is possible to adopt a transitional period, but there may be problems with the local elections. But, we will not allow federalization and autonomy. And, there are a lot of such "red lines", - said Arsen Avakov.

In turn, the Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations of the US State Department, Kurt Volker, noted that the goal of the civilized world is to restore Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"Over the years of Russian aggression, more people have been killed in Ukraine than during the Balkan War and there is the biggest amount of internally displaced people since the Second World War. We all must ensure the security in Europe and should not allow the borders of other states to be changed. Russia denies its participation in the conflict, but according to our information, Russian officers occupy leading positions there, Russian contractors are fighting. The Kremlin constantly carries out intelligence on the territory of Ukraine, but states that the parties of the conflict are Ukraine and separatists. We need a peacekeeping operation. However, we clearly understand that the Russians will not give up and will not allow Ukraine to return its temporarily occupied territories. The main objective of the Russian Federation is to control Ukraine and prevent its integration into Europe," - Kurt Volker said.

Arsen Avakov noted that Ukraine is ready to hold a dialogue and work on the liberation of its territories, but there are points that cannot be discussed.

"We have only six points on which we are not ready to compromise. The changing of Ukrainian system, namely, the state of Ukraine cannot be considered as a federation. The state border of Ukraine should be controlled exclusively by the SBGS. The residents of the Donbas’s occupied territories are citizens of Ukraine. The theory that "we will give you the Donbas, and you will return to us Crimea" is also not allowed. The amnesty cannot be applied to persons who have committed grave crimes. And, of course, out of discussion the Ukraine’s EU and NATO course," - he said.

Communications Department of the MIA of Ukraine