The meeting of the Minsk-based Contact Group, held by videoconference on March 24-26, had been expected to officially create a new negotiating forum, named the Consultative Council – in fact, an accretion to the Minsk Contact Group on the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The meeting, however, did not finalize that decision, as Kyiv demurred at the last moment. Officials in Kyiv declared that signing the documents by videoconference would have been “physically impossible” (see accompanying article on page 3).
Russia’s presidential envoy, Dmitry Kozak, had initiated the plan and prepared the documents for the Contact Group’s preceding meeting, on March 11, in Minsk. The Ukrainian presidential envoy, Andriy Yermak, accepted the plan; both presidential envoys shepherded the documents through the Contact Group for preliminary approval. The documents were kept secret, pending the final approval that was expected on March 25 but did not materialize. However, the documents’ full text leaked to the Ukrainian media (Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, March 12).