EU may tighten sanctions against Russia if Moscow recognizes the results of the coming elections in the People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk that are scheduled to take place on November 2.
Brussels believes that the elections in the breakaway republics violate the Minsk agreements. Accordingly, recognizing these elections legitimate, Russia does not contribute to the resolution of the crisis, but rather to its transformation into a frozen conflict, European officials said. It was also said that the EU arsenal had more opportunities for tightening the sanctions against Russia.
A source in the Russian government, in turn, confirmed the existence of a closed addendum to the Minsk agreements that envisaged the elections in the Donbass before November 3. Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned them in his speech at Valdai discussion club in Sochi. At the same time, it was said that neither Russia, nor Ukraine confirmed the existence of secret agreements in their interaction with European officials. Thus, Brussels will proceed from the fact that there are no additional arrangements at all, lenta.ru reports.
On Wednesday, the European Commission condemned Russia's intention to recognize the elections in the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republic. Brussels officials reminded that the Minsk agreements between Kiev and Donetsk and Luhansk self-proclaimed republics provided for early local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation. The elections of the heads of the parliaments of the two republics, in the opinion of the Commission, come contrary to the Minsk protocol and undermine "the progress in finding a sustainable political solution within that framework."
Meanwhile, spokespeople for the Russian Foreign Ministry said that attempts to alienate some aspects from the Minsk agreements jeopardized the peace process in the east of Ukraine.
"Attempts to artificially, in a form of ultimatum, isolate some aspects from the complex of interrelated Minsk agreements - the date of the local elections, to make it a certain criterion of "behavior" of the sides, may undermine the entire peace process and turn it into a hostage of geopolitical ambitions," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Russian diplomats believe that Europe wants to postpone the vote in the two breakaway republics.
"In general, it appears that all arguments of the partners against the November 2 elections aim to maximally delay them, apparently in a hope that with the onset of cold weather, problems of the local population will aggravate, which will affect the general mood and the election turnout," Russian officials said.
The position of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics on the election date does not contradict to the Minsk agreements:
"The position regarding the elections of November 2 is legitimate and fully complies with the agreements achieved in Minsk," officials with the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation believes that the vote in the breakaway republics will allow to start a constructive dialogue, whereas Russia will contribute to this on its part.