In September, almost a month ago, a protocol on the implementation of the Peace Plan of the President of Ukraine was approved in Minsk. NATO Summit in Newport was held at the same time.
What have we managed to achieve in this difficult time since the signature of the protocol?
The first result.
We have managed to stop the offensive of the enemy along the whole front.
I mean not mercenaries, not militants-terrorists, but well-trained units of the regular army of the neighboring country.
Hundreds of interventionists that will never come back home have been stopped by our warriors.
It has become a powerful argument in favor of peace on the other side of the border.
Result number two.
Ceasefire regime has been established along the large part of the front.
The number of victims among our militaries has been reduced significantly and fortunately in recent days we haven’t lost any our hero.
Those who violate the ceasefire regime get a decent response. There cannot be any pacifism.
Our brave soldiers heroically hold the line in Donetsk airport that has already become a symbol of courage and heroism. They perform their service with impressive courage and bravery.
Enemies of these heroes called them Ukrainian cyborgs.
Their feat must be minted with golden letters in the chronicles of Ukrainian military glory. The state will appreciate their courage properly.
The third important result.
We have managed to liberate almost 1500 hostages and war prisoners.
We are struggling to return all the detained people without exception. Both those detained by militants and those tortured as political prisoners in Russia.
The fourth result.
We gained an opportunity to conduct partial rotation of militaries, heal wounds, fix damaged equipment and deliver new one to the ATO area.
We have built several lines of fortifications in the Donbas and established a reliable protection from the spread of terrorism to the rest of the Ukrainian territory.
And finally the fifth result.
There is peace in the cities, villages and districts where the Ukrainian flag was hoisted.
Normal pensions and salaries are paid there. There are water, light and heat. Schools and kindergartens work there.
Normal life is being restored there.
New Heads of Donetsk and Luhansk Regional State Administrations have been appointed.
They are both generals. Oleksandr Kikhtenko and Hennadiy Moskal.
Conventionally we call them general governors. Such combination is optimal for the Donbas now and for the challenges that we must resolve jointly. I have set a task for them to fully restore the work of all governmental bodies in each liberated city and village.
What should be the next steps in our struggle for peace?
We are planning to achieve full ceasefire in the coming days.
Then, we will begin the creation of buffer zone. Both parties must draw back their heavy armament at least by 15 km.
I hope that significant part will leave the territory of Ukraine. Consequently, a 30km security belt will be established. It will exclude the possibility for the militants to shell the inhabited localities and bring the long-awaited security for civilians.
Drawing back heavy armament will become an additional guarantee for the ceasefire regime. It will be no more possible to violate it spontaneously and avoid punishment.
The main task is to regain control over the Ukrainian-Russian border. Border of Ukraine is sacred for us. It is unchanged and we will not give up any piece of our land. We will restore sovereignty over every square meter. But we need time for that.
To ensure monitoring of the situation on the border, the first drones have already been delivered to Ukraine from Austria. The same devices will soon be delivered from Germany and France.
I hope that their overall quantity will be enough to ensure the 24-hour monitoring of the situation along the entire Ukrainian-Russian border.
Due to such control, I hope that the supply of equipment, weapons and mercenaries across the border will be terminated.
The OSCE has increased the number of observers up to 1500 upon my request. It will be enough for this reputable European organization to fulfill its obligations on the monitoring of the ceasefire and the restoration of the Ukrainian control over the border with Russia.
We must clearly understand that we would not manage to stop the intervention unless the whole world supported us.
Next week, I will visit Milan, Italy to hold several multilateral and bilateral negotiations on the implementation of our Peace plan.
Our meeting with Putin is to be held there. On one side – leaders of the EU and several European countries together with the President of Ukraine. On the other side – Russian President.
I have no illusions. These negotiations will not be easy. But I am ready for that.
My goal is immutable independence of the country, its territorial integrity, inviolability of borders and restoration of peace.
If we achieve full ceasefire, withdrawal of Russian troops and fighting vehicles and control over the border, we will enter clear and necessary path to political settlement.
For this end, local elections must be held on the territories still controlled by militants.
Yet not the elections that terrorists are trying to declare.
They must fully meet Ukrainian rules and laws, be held under the observation of the OSCE and other European and international organizations and structures and be recognized by the entire world as transparent and democratic.
The Peace plan that has at least ensured certain level of de-escalation of the conflict is constantly attacked by arm-wavers. The majority of them are detached from reality. Though I am open for critics, I am not going to alter the strategy.
It means that we can win only by peaceful means.
I am optimist, but it doesn’t mean that the country shouldn’t be ready for the worst. It should be able to rebuff those who – God forbid – may decide to come back to the warpath and resume hostilities against Ukraine.
I devoted the majority of time in recent 7-10 days to the issues of defense capacity of the state.
I visited the training range in Zhytomyr region where special troops are being trained; the educational center of border guards in Kyiv region; the Ground Forces Academy of Lviv; the Air Forces University of Kharkiv.
On Friday, I visited the ATO area.
In a week I have inspected defense enterprises from Lviv to Kharkiv.
For the first time in many years they are working under three-shift schedule to produce new and repair damaged equipment that must be returned to the defense line as soon as possible.
They have fulfilled this task by 80% already. State-of-the-art samples of precision weapons, reconnaissance means and fire control systems have already been delivered to the ATO area.
We are also focused on the preparation to the winter period, because it is now impossible to think about the return of our troops to the home base.
Fanfare that accompanies the reports of militaries on the provision of winter equipment for the troops does not prevent me from seeing and hearing the real problems. We have done a lot and we admit it, but we must do more.
Of course we cannot organize subtropics in trenches, but our soldiers must be clothed and warmed.
By the way trenches. We are building three lines of fortifications along the front. Checkpoints, antitank ditches, man-made obstacles, fire emplacements, dugouts, trenches, special places for ADMS and tanks, barbed wire etc.
It should become a serious obstacle for those who may think about invading the Ukrainian territory.
A series of staffing decisions should also reinforce our defense capacity.
I have established the Intelligence Committee.
It will be headed by famous professional, general Ihor Smeshko who has a working experience as Security Service Head, Military Intelligence Head, Army Attaché of Ukraine to the USA and Switzerland.
I have replaced the board of the State Border Service. New tasks of the border guards demand new leaders.
The time has come to replace the board of military department. I think that I should sustain the rapport of Valeriy Heletey on his resignation.
I will make a submission on the appointment of a new Defense Minister to the Parliament tomorrow. I am sure that we will not delay the voting. I hope that it will take place on Tuesday.
We are stronger, much stronger than a month ago.
We keep the powder dry. For the peaceful process hasn’t yet become irreversible.
Still, the main thing is that we have achieved significant de-escalation of the conflict within the peaceful strategy and every one of you feels that.
It gives us a chance to look at the future with great hope and restrained optimism.
I will double and triple efforts to achieve peace.
I believe that after hard challenges we will reach peace, reforms, prosperity and European prospect.
Everything will be fine.
Glory to Ukraine!