Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky said that Kiev will return the territory of Donbass. He announced this to reporters on October 10 during a press conference at which more than 300 journalists gathered. The event is a kind of press marathon: individual groups of reporters are invited in turn to communicate with the president.

“The whole part of the people who live there, and they know, think, they feel like Ukrainians, they must know that we do not leave them, we do not abandon them, we will definitely return them together with the territories. This is our plan A, ”Zelensky said during an event that Ukrainian TV channels broadcast.

Plan B, according to the President of Ukraine, is to provide an opportunity for everyone to move to the territories controlled by Kiev if the process of returning the regions of Donbass to Ukraine is delayed.

At the same time, Zelensky said that he excludes the possibility of returning the territories of Donbass by military means.

“As president, I am not ready to lose our people, so I chose the diplomatic path ... I always said, if we are talking about people and territories, the first priority is people, the second priority is territories. Thanks to the Minsk and Norman format, I want to try to find ways, ”Zelensky emphasized.

The president of the Center for System Analysis and Forecasting Rostislav Ishchenko in an interview with RT drew attention to the fact that the statements of the current head of state on the return of territories practically repeat the words of Petro Poroshenko. But the words of the ex-president remained words that are far from reality.

“Zelensky completely repeats Poroshenko’s statements. The growth and weight of the Ukrainian president is changing, the realism of his statements does not change. They remain the same in form and content, ”said the expert.

Ishchenko recalled that most people living in the Donbass do not want to live in Ukraine.

“They, in fact, are fighting for it. They have been fighting for this for five years, and without the support of the majority of the population this is practically impossible. There are probably some residents who want to live in Ukraine, but they are a minority, ”the political scientist emphasized.

Question of Crimea

While talking with reporters, Zelensky also remembered the Crimea, saying that he wants to return the agenda of the peninsula to the negotiation process within the framework of the Norman format.

“For me, the Norman format is still an opportunity to return the issue of Crimea. Just returning it to at least discussion. Because now there is no track where this issue is being discussed, ”said the President of Ukraine.

  • Cars of OSCE observers at a checkpoint in the village of Petrovskoye in the Donetsk region, where the withdrawal of forces from the units of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) should take place
  • © Sergey Averin / RIA News

The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted to this statement. Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko emphasized that Zelensky’s intention to use the Normandy format platform to discuss the situation around Crimea does not make sense.

“The Norman format was created to resolve the conflict in the south-east of Ukraine. For some other things, it is not intended. The wishes of the President of Ukraine are a little inconsistent with the realities that have developed over the past five years that have passed since the creation of the format, ”the Russian diplomat said in an interview with TASS.

Recall, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated that the issue of Crimea’s affiliation is closed, including in 2018, commenting on the US position. Then, following talks with Donald Trump in Helsinki, Vladimir Putin expressed his disagreement with the US position on the illegality of Crimea joining Russia.

“We have a different point of view. We believe that we held a referendum in strict accordance with international law, with the Charter of the United Nations. For us, for the Russian Federation, this issue is closed, ”Putin stressed.

Rostislav Ishchenko, in a conversation with RT, also recalled that the summit of the "Norman Four" does not imply a discussion of the issue of the Crimea.

“The Norman format does not deal with Crimea at all. In general, a summit in the Norman format has not yet been planned, because Ukraine does not fulfill the conditions under which it can take place. Accordingly, why talk about what is not? ”Ishchenko believes.

Denis Denisov, director of the Institute for Peacekeeping Initiatives and Conflictology, also recalled the absence of the topic of Crimea on the agenda of the Norman format.

“The Norman format originally implied and was conceived as a platform for discussing issues related to the Donbass. And I am completely not sure that all parties participating in the Norman format will agree to consider any status of Crimea within its framework. This is a very unlikely situation. Western partners are well aware that this will greatly complicate the work of this site, ”said the political scientist.

Non-alternative formula

At a press conference, Zelensky also told reporters that the law on the special status of Donbass will be submitted for discussion of the “Norman Four”, emphasizing that this law will not be adopted without a detailed public discussion.

“What will be the new law on special status? We are ready to discuss points, red lines with society, journalists, and only after that with the Verkhovna Rada, and only after that vote, ”Zelensky said.

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Recall that the procedure for implementing the Minsk agreements, including the implementation of the special status of Donbass, is governed by the Steinmeier formula. The harmonization of this formula caused dissatisfaction of the Ukrainian radicals, who staged protests in several cities of Ukraine.

At the same time, answering journalists' questions, Zelensky emphasized that there is no alternative to Steinmeier’s formula for resolving the conflict in the Donbass. However, he added that Kiev has not yet approved the formula and the processes specified in it by law.

“The introduction of the Steinmeier formula did not take place. It can take place only in the law on special status. The implementation of this formula can take place only in law. That is, the Steinmeier formula comes into force when the law on special status comes into force. This is precisely the order, ”Zelensky explained.

Denis Denisov in a conversation with RT noted that, despite the statements of the Ukrainian president on the return of territories and the adoption of new laws on the status of Donbass, many residents of the DPR and LPR are not perceived as a friendly state.

“This is especially true for people who live near the contact line - they have lost loved ones and continue to suffer deprivation for all these five years. And the Ukrainian authorities and the president will have to try very hard to at least convince these people, ”said Denisov.

According to the expert, in Ukraine there are a number of mechanisms that can be used to carry out such a policy.

“First, let them start with pensions, stop shelling, lift the blockade, and negotiate. Then it will be possible to talk about more specific things. Because now such statements are not taken seriously, but rather look like a certain set of slogans that migrated from the election campaigns of Zelensky and the party “Servant of the People”, which are not hidden specific intentions and actions, ”the expert noted.

At the moment, there are no grounds and prerequisites to believe that the Ukrainian side has radically changed its position on the conflict in the Donbass and is making all possible efforts to resolve it, Rostislav Ishchenko believes. Statements by Zelensky about the return of any territories say "about a superficial understanding of the issue," the expert said.

“The fact is that Zelensky does not understand what he is talking about. Maybe he is well versed in jokes from the stage, but he understands politics very poorly. He says what his assistants wrote to him, his statements are completely unrealistic, ”the political scientist concluded.