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Expert: Minsk unable to guarantee Ukraine border safety if talks venue changed

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Minsk Dialogue expert Yauhen Preyherman

Moving the talks of the Contact Group on the conflict in Donbass from Belarus to another country is not benefitial to Ukraine in the first place, according to Yauhen Preyherman, head of the Minsk Dialogue experts' community. If Minsk is replaced as the negotiations venue, Belarus will have much less opportunities to guarantee the integrity and military safety of the Belarus-Ukraine border, Preyherman told Euroradio when asked to comment on the initiative by the U.S. and Kazakhstan presidents to change the place of the Contact Group's talks.

Yauhen Preyherman: “If Belarus is deprived of its status as a host of the talks, our country will find it objectively very difficult to convince Russia why Belarus is more benefitial to Russia as a venue for negotiations rather than a foothold for the Russian troops, taking into account all the obligations in the defense and military sphere under the treaties with Russia."

In the view of the commentator, it does not matter now where negotiations take place. What matters is the result. But given that various sub-groups of the Contact Group meet in Minsk virtually every week, it is hard to imagine such pace can be maintained if the venue of the talks is moved to Kazakhstan.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said after his talks with U.S. President in Washington that Donald Trump does not want the talks on Donbass to continue in Minsk. The presidents came to the conclusion that the Minsk-1 accords are in a deadlock, because the sides in the conflict fail to reach an agreement. Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei said that "the talks on Ukraine can be moved even to Antarctica if one can be sure they can be a success."

Listen to the full interview with Yauhen Preyherman here: