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FAKE NEWS: “Ukraine is officially withdrawing from the Minsk Protocol”

Zelensky
©EPA-EFE/PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE  |   A handout photo made available by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Service shows Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) on his working visit to the eastern Ukrainian conflict zone, 08 April 2021.

Ukraine has reportedly decided to abandon negotiations aimed at solving the conflict in Donbass, according to a number of articles published in the Russian or pro-Russian media.

NEWS: “Once lockdown restrictions are lifted and Minsk negotiations resume, Ukraine will not be sending any representatives to the capital of Belarus, Deputy Prime Minister Oleksii Reznikov has told ICTV channel”.

NARRATIVE: Ukraine is breaking off negotiations over solving the conflict in Donbass.

BACKGROUND:  The Minsk Protocol is a format of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, with the informal participation of representatives of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), overseen by the OSCE. There are two Minsk ceasefire agreements, concluded in 2014 and 2015, regulating ongoing negotiations. After initial talks held in trilateral format, the parties agreed to continue talks over a number of issues in the Normandy Four format, involving the participation of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia. The Minsk Protocol is recognized as the official and diplomatic channel used to solve the crisis.

During the pandemic, Minsk negotiations moved online. The Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, Oleksii Reznikov, said that, in the event the quarantine is lifted, no Ukrainian delegation would be sent to Minsk since Belarus is fully under the influence of the Russian Federation, which means Kiev doesn’t trust Belarus enough to send its envoys to this country.

Kiev authorities will nevertheless continue their participation in negotiations, their only objection being linked with the venue picked for hosting the negotiations once anti-pandemic restrictions are lifted.

Their reluctance to travel to Belarus surfaced with the staging of mass protests in Belarus against the rigged presidential election won by the incumbent president, Alexander Lukashenko, shortly after which Minsk intensified its anti-Ukrainian rhetoric. One of the narratives disseminated by Minsk authorities and picked up by Russia, states that the protests in the entire region – including in Ukraine and Belarus – were staged by the EU and US intelligence. Following these protests, Ukraine allegedly became an occupied state.

As regards the situation on the ground, Kiev claims Russian forces need to pull back from Ukraine, and the Minsk Protocol provisions must be enacted. Russia, on the other hand, describes Ukraine as an aggressor state, although it continues to consolidate its military presence outside Ukrainian borders.

PURPSOE: The purpose is to point out that Ukraine is the one actually boycotting the negotiations, thus preventing a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: The negotiation process is making slow progress, being frequently marked by deadlocks. Negotiations eventually resume, which happened during the pandemic as well, when negotiations were switched to an online format. At no point whatsoever did Ukraine claim it wants to abandon negotiations, but it merely asked for choosing a new country to host the negotiations once they resume in a physical format.

Politnavigator.net is accurately quoting the Ukrainian official, yet it manipulates the news heading and lead. Moreover, this seems to be a broader, well-designed campaign, considering the website has published other articles on this topic, such as “Ukraine is abandoning Minsk negotiations to please the United States

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  • Publication / Media:
    politnavigator.net
  • Date of publication:
    06/04/2021
  • Language / Target audience:
    Audiences in Russia and occupied territories in Ukraine.
  • Amplification:
    Russian and pro-Russian media.
  • Political affiliation:
    In 2017, the Ukrainian Information Ministry labeled “Politnavigator” a source of anti-Ukrainian information.
  • Key narrative:
    Ukraine is withdrawing from the Minsk Protocol.
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  • Ukraine has reportedly decided to abandon negotiations aimed at solving the conflict in Donbass, according to a number of articles published in the Russian or pro-Russian media.
  • PURPSOE: The purpose is to point out that Ukraine is the one actually boycotting the negotiations, thus preventing a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
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