U.S. warns of Ukraine blockade effects, while France in opposition
The U.S. State
Department is carefully monitoring the situation with the Ukrainian government’s trade
blockade of Donbas, announced on March 15, and is counting on a peaceful outcome, acting
spokesman Mark Toner said in a March 16 telephone briefing, as reported by
Interfax-Ukraine. The situation could have “potentially negative consequences” on the
fulfillment of the Minsk accords, he said.
blockade of all the occupied districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions (collectively
known as "Donbas"), was made official yesterday with a presidential decree. The
conditions for lifting the blockade include a full ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy
armaments, in line with Minsk Accords requirements, as well as the return of seized
enterprises on the occupied territories. Before that, activists launched a blockade of
railroad routes with occupied Donbas in mid-February.
Taking a tougher
position, France’s Foreign Ministry called for the Ukrainian government to drop its newly
imposed blockade, particularly on railroad routes. “France is deeply concerned about the
Ukrainian government’s March 15 decision to introduce a temporary blockade on
transporting goods to the country’s east,” a ministry statement said.
governments are concerned that the blockade creates another dimension to the Donbas
conflict that makes the fulfillment of the Minsk Accords even more challenging. They are
also concerned about worsened economic conditions for both Ukraine and the occupied
President Poroshenko resisted the activist blockade for as long as he could. But
considering the potential for a public rebellion that was growing, he decided the best
way out of the conflict was to take control of the blockade himself. That way, his
administration could determine its nuances and outcome, rather than it being used as a
weapon against him.
control of the blockade, the government will be better able to ensure that it doesn’t
harm its ability to continue to pursue the fulfillment of the Minsk Accords. We view the
president’s move, controversial with Western governments, as a necessary step towards
maintaining stability in very precarious times.
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