On 17th March the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a law on the “special status” of Donbass, as provided for in Minsk II.  Subsequently, in 2019, the Ukrainian parliament voted thursday in favor of extending rules that impose limited autonomy on separatist-controlled eastern regions, a precondition for an agreement to resolve the five-year conflict.  The law was immediately criticized by Ukrainian politicians, separatist leaders, and the Russian government. Radical Party leader Oleh Lyashko said the law was “a vote for de facto recognition of the Russian occupation in Donbass.” Parliament Deputy Speaker Andriy Parubiy said the law was “not for Putin or for the occupiers,” but to show Europe that Ukraine was ready to comply with Minsk II. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the law was a “severe abandonment of the Minsk agreements.”  Representatives of LPR and DVR stated that the law was a “unilateral” amendment to Minsk II and that the agreement was annulled by this amendment.  The head of the DVR, Alexander Zakharchenko, stated that any modification of Minsk II that had not been mutually agreed upon was “legally null and void” and that “nothing that had been agreed in Minsk was carried out.” He added that the DVR should “occupy all the cities where the referendum took place, and then cooperate politically [with Ukraine] as equal partners.”  Despite this, representatives of the DVR and the LPR of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine continued to present peace proposals.  Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said on the 8th Since Minsk II came into effect, more than 100 soldiers and at least 50 civilians have been killed. According to him, pro-Russian forces had violated the ceasefire more than 4,000 times.  Contrary to the agreement, DVR representative Denis Pushilin and LPR representative Vladislav Deinego stated on June 10, 2015 that their republics “wish to join the Russian Federation.” . . .