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Nov 1, 2021
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Swissinfo: the war in Donbass will continue for a long time

Ukraine does not accept criticism from the West

While the Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis went on an official visit to Kiev, Swiss national TV and radio company SRG SSR published on her website Swissinfo big interview with ex-ambassador of Switzerland to Ukraine Tony Frischerwho knows well the situation not only in Kiev, but also in Donbass, because he was the coordinator of the OSCE working group on humanitarian issues in the Trilateral Contact Group on resolving the situation in the East of Ukraine. His OSCE mandate expired in June this year, after which he returned to his homeland.

“I have always stressed: the Ukrainian situation is not black and white, there are“ black sheep ”not only in the east of Ukraine, there are also in the west. I have always criticized all sides at every opportunity. Unfortunately, I have to say that Ukraine has always been the least grateful for such criticism. But after criticism of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk for the fact that they do not provide the International Red Cross (ICRC) with access to their prisons, in 2016 I was personally given access to prisoners, ”

– quotes Swissinfo Tony Frisch.

Swissinfo: The war in Donbass will continue for a long time

According to the ex-ambassador, the fact that the exchange of prisoners remained blocked for a long time is more to blame for Ukraine than for the “separatist” republics, it is Ukraine that is responsible for the endless delays in the preparation of exchanges.

However, criticism is always painfully perceived by the Kiev authorities. Perhaps this is due to the fact that criticism from the West is unusual for Ukraine, since for many years the West has only expressed its support for everything that happens in this Eastern European country, the newspaper notes. Frisch admits that criticism of Kiev has always been very restrained, which cannot be said about criticism of Russia and the “separatists” it supports. And the special representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office in Ukraine has always approved of any Ukrainian actions, the ex-ambassador admits. Nevertheless, he confirms that Switzerland intends to continue to support Ukraine, because we are talking about a smoldering conflict in the center of Europe, and for Switzerland, peace has always been in the first place.

“This is not only a local conflict, it is also a confrontation between East and West. Multidirectional interests clash on the contact line in eastern Ukraine. I was asked several times, including by the ambassadors of Western European countries, that this is the new Berlin Wall? I replied that there is no wall, but this dividing line is very clear. That is why neutral countries can and should play the main role in such a situation – Switzerland is neither an EU member nor a NATO member ”,

– Tony Frisch is sure.

In his opinion, during his visit to Ukraine, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis must resolve a very important issue with the Kiev authorities: giving the “separatists” for exchange, Ukraine does not stop the criminal cases instituted against them, these people are on the wanted list and therefore cannot return to territory controlled by Kiev. Tony Frisch is convinced that such a practice is a deception and is unacceptable for a legal country that positions itself as a democratic one.

“It would be important for Minister Cassis to raise this issue during his visit, but he would then have to weigh exactly how far one could go here without jeopardizing future cooperation with Ukraine,”

– noted the diplomat.

When asked what other problems the Swiss minister in Kiev could raise during the negotiations, Frisch noted a big problem associated with the clearance of a huge territory in the Donbass. The contact line in the combat zone is 450 kilometers long, and this line is mined to a depth of two to five kilometers, resulting in a very large area. The task of demining is the most difficult: we are talking about millions of planted mines, where to get funds for demining is still unknown, Frisch noted.

“Cooperation between Switzerland and Eastern Europe is actively developing only in Western Ukraine. As already mentioned, Switzerland provides humanitarian assistance to both sides of the conflict, but there is no talk of development cooperation with the self-proclaimed republics yet, because this would require a genuine ceasefire, which in fact does not exist. It is very clear to me that this conflict is likely to last even longer and as a result will remain frozen for many years, ”

– states the diplomat.

Own. corr. FSK

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