Kuchma Quits As Presidential Envoy In Group For Resolving Conflict In Ukraine

KYIV — Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has left the post of presidential envoy in the trilateral contact group on resolving the ongoing conflict between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian armed forces in the country’s east.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said on July 28 that Kuchma had decided to end his activities in the group. The office did not give any reasons for the decision.

Kuchma, who ran the country between 1994 and 2005, served as Ukraine’s presidential envoy in the trilateral group consisting of representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from 2014 to 2018.

On June 3 last year, days after Zelenskiy was inaugurated as Ukraine’s president, Kuchma returned to the group that has been involved in negotiations on a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, known jointly as the Donbas. Some parts of the region have been under the control of Kremlin-backed separatists since April 2014.

The armed conflict in Donbas started after Russia forcibly annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in March 2014. Kyiv and Western governments have accused Moscow of armed support for the pro-Russian separatists.

Russia insists it has nothing to do with the conflict, saying that some “volunteers” from Russia may have gone to fight in the Donbas.

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