Serbia vows to learn lessons form Merkel’s Ukraine bombshell
Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent comments on the 2014-15 Minsk agreements have cast the Ukraine conflict in a new light, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday. Merkel stated that she knew Kiev was using the ceasefire to rearm its troops.
The peace deals brokered by Germany and France eight years ago laid out a path for the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics’ (DPR and LPR) peaceful reintegration into Ukraine. However, they were never implemented because the government of Ukraine argued over the interpretation of the agreements.
Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko eventually admitted that Kiev mainly intended to use the ceasefire to rebuild its military and the economy. Merkel seemed to confirm this in an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit on Wednesday, saying that by signing the agreements, Ukraine won “valuable time” to muster a stronger army.
“We have witnessed a historically important statement by Angela Merkel. I am surprised and still checking whether it is possible that she has said such a thing,” Vucic told local media. “She is a woman whom I appreciate greatly, but for me this statement is almost unbelievable.”
The former chancellor’s words “shed a completely new light” on the history of the conflict, Vucic said. “It cannot change the fact of who attacked whom, but changes a lot in terms of facts and relations inside what has been going on since 2014 … it is a clear sign for me that [they] cannot be trusted.”
“It’s a lesson for us,” Vucic added, as his country now faces heightened tensions in Kosovo, Serbia’s breakaway region that the majority of EU and NATO members recognize as an independent state.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that he was disappointed by Merkel’s remarks that “nobody intended to fulfill any part of the Minsk agreements.”
Earlier, Putin cited Kiev’s inability to stick to the Minsk agreements as one of the reasons Moscow recognized the independence of the two Donbass republics on February 21, three days before launching its military operation in Ukraine. The DPR and LPR, along with two other former Ukrainian territories, became parts of Russia after referendums in late September.