Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, Germany to hold summit on Donbass conflict
The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are set to hold their first face-to-face talks in Paris along with leaders of France and Germany as part of renewed four-way efforts to end a deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine.
According to Press TV, the meeting, slated to be held later on Monday, brings together Russian and Ukrainian Presidents Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron of France mediating the peace endeavor — the first of its kind in three years.
The crisis first broke out in Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking region in 2014, when a wave of protests overthrew a democratically-elected pro-Russia government and replaced it with a pro-West administration.
This prompted an armed conflict in Ukraine’s eastern regions, where people have refused to endorse the new administration. The confrontations saw pro-Russia forces take control of two large eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, demanding greater autonomy from Kiev.
Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of fueling the crisis, an allegation Russia has rejected.
Also in 2014, people in Crimea — a peninsula on the northern coast of the Black Sea — voted in a referendum in favor of reuniting with the Russian Federation, further souring Moscow’s relations with Western states, which branded the development as Russia’s annexation of the region.
The Paris summit is aimed at facilitating the implementation of the long-stalled peace accords signed in Minsk, Belarus, in 2015 between Kiev and pro-Russia forces in the east with the mediation of Moscow, Paris and Berlin — in what is known as the Normandy Four format.
The agreements call for the withdrawal of heavy weapons, the restoration of Kiev’s control over its borders, wider local autonomy, and the holding of local elections.