© REUTERS/ Mikhail Palinchak/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service
Kiev deliberately has protracted the talks over the Minsk agreements, according to Natalia Nikonorova, Foreign Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). Speaking to RT Russian political analyst Alexei Chesnakov, she assumed that Kiev wants international security forces brought in to eastern Ukraine to gain the upper hand.

Kiev used pauses in the negotiations of the Normandy Four and the Trilateral Contact group to sabotage the Minsk accords, Natalia Nikonorova, Foreign Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), told a press conference Thursday.

"Of all 13 paragraphs, which describe the whole set of measures necessary for the implementation of the Minsk accords, only one has been implemented [by Kiev] — to create subgroups," Nikonorova said as quoted by RIA Novosti.

She emphasized that although these political subgroups have really been created by Kiev, they are negotiators in name only, because very often Ukrainian representatives use various pretexts to block decision-making.

Furthermore, Nikonorova called attention to the fact that Kiev continues to sabotage the implementation of the so-called "Steinmeier formula" proposed by former German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier back in 2015.

Under this formula the special status to Donbass will be assigned to the breakaway republics on the day of local elections in the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics.

She stressed that Kiev keeps protracting the talks. The Ukrainian leadership refuses to discuss the Steinmeier formula by referring to the necessity of receiving "additional signals" from the Normandy Four. It appears that it is in the interest of Kiev to stall the talks, she believes.

"Yesterday there was the 56th meeting of the political subgroups," Nikonorova said Thursday, "We prepared eight documents which were presented [to Kiev] back in April and May. [For its part], Ukraine has failed to work out any [document]. At the same time the [Ukrainian] subgroup has already replaced four negotiators over the past year."
© Sputnik/ Igor Maslov
OSCE inspectors examine the territory of the Donetsk filter plant, situated on the contact line between Yasinovataya and Avdeyevka in Donbass, which was heavily shelled by the Ukrainian army.
Both DPR and LPR representatives have expressed their dissatisfaction with the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, stressing that it doesn't exert enough pressure on Kiev.

"The OSCE is using extremely evasive [language] in its reports. They [OSCE] know much more than they say. They do not specify, at least presumably, who fired in the territory," LPR diplomat Rodion Miroshnik said, as quoted by RT.

DPR and LPR representatives voiced their growing concerns about the OSCE mission amid increased tensions between Kiev and the breakaway republics.

The situation in eastern Ukraine has escalated over the past few weeks, in particular near the town of Avdiivka, where clashes between Kiev forces and the local militia have intensified.

On January 29, fighting erupted in Avdiivka, Donetsk region.

Instead of de-escalating the conflict Kiev began to beef up its military presence near the town.

"The Ukrainian army continues to concentrate its forces in the vicinity of Avdiivka for an offensive," Deputy Commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Operational Command Eduard Basurin reported on February 2.

A few days later the Russian Investigative Committee confirmed that Kiev was increasing its military presence along the contact line in Donbass.

"The Kiev authorities continue to illegally, in violation of the Minsk agreements and ceasefire commitments arising from them, actively build up their military presence along the contact line," Russian Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko told reporters on February 7.

© AFP 2016/ Aleksey FILIPPOV
Local residents examine their flat that has been destroyed as a result of night shelling to the flashpoint eastern town of Avdiivka.
In addition to shelling residential areas in Donbass, the Ukrainian Armed Forces carried out attacks against the region's infrastructure facilities: in particular, on February 4 the Ukrainian military blew up a power line near the city of Horlivka.

"The forces exploded the power line at 14:30 local time [11:30 GMT] on the territory controlled by Kiev, near the town of Svitlodarsk. As a result, the whole city of Horlivka was left without power," a spokesman for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) reported.

Commenting on the issue, Alexei Chesnakov, the head of the Center for Political Analyses in Moscow, explained that back in May Kiev adopted a new tactic of destroying the region's infrastructure and industrial facilities.

"Ukraine wants to shift the focus from the discussion of the political process [in Donbass] to security issues," Chesnakov told RT, suggesting that this approach is being backed by US and EU decision-makers.

"This policy aimed at raising the problem of environmental and technological disasters is coordinated between Ukraine and the West," he explained.

"Kiev wants international security forces deployed in the region. Apparently, it is appropriate to talk about the United Nations, since the OSCE has no military force. This is a simple and primitive game," Chesnakov said, adding that Kiev hopes to win in few moves.

© Sputnik/ Genady Dubovoy
DPR militiamen on demarcation line.
The Russian political analyst suggested that artillery raids on Donbass during Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's foreign tours are yet another element of Kiev's broader "game."

"These activities [on the part of Kiev] are linked to the schedule of [Poroshenko's] foreign tours. If we connect the dots properly, we will see that the escalation is aimed at drawing Western politicians' attention to what is going on in Ukraine," Chesnakov said.

The question then arises whether such a strategy really helps Poroshenko to tip the balance in his favor in the eyes of Brussels and Washington.

Speaking to reporters last Friday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that the US and EU have begun to understand the true nature of Kiev's leadership.

"The only plus that I see in this situation, is that the West begins to understand the true nature of the Ukrainian authorities, but it is being achieved with blood and many months-long, if not years-long, experiments," Lavrov told the NTV channel.