World Bulletin / News Desk
The leaders of Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine met in Berlin on Wednesday to discuss efforts to bring peace to eastern Ukraine.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gathered at the Federal Chancellery for the meeting.
The leaders made no statement before the summit, which came amid intensified fighting in recent weeks in eastern Ukraine between government troops and pro-Russian separatists.
Earlier, Merkel had cautioned against high expectations from Wednesday’s gathering, but underlined the need to maintain close dialogue.
"No miracles should be expected from this meeting," Merkel told a press conference Tuesday.
Nevertheless, she expressed hope that the parties would make every effort towards full implementation of the Minsk cease-fire agreement.
Merkel, Putin, Hollande, and Poroshenko were together for the first time in over a year for a four-party meeting. Their last “Normandy format” meeting was held in Paris in October 2015, but ended without any major breakthrough.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, warned Wednesday of increasing violations in recent weeks in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Ukraine has been wracked by conflict since April 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia separatists has seen around 9,500 killed, according to the UN.
Despite the Minsk cease-fire agreement signed between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists in February 2015, implementation of the agreement remained stalled.
Under the agreement, the conflict parties had to withdraw heavy weaponry from combat areas, ensure withdrawal of all foreign armed groups, and take steps towards political reforms and decentralization in the eastern Ukrainian regions.
Crimea was formally annexed by Moscow in March 2014 after an illegal independence vote on the heels of violent anti-government protests in the Ukrainian capital Kiev that led to the overthrow of then-President Victor Yanukovich.
More than 9,000 people have lost their lives due to the conflict between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels since April 2014, according to the UN.
The UN General Assembly voted almost unanimously to proclaim the annexation illegal.
Along with many UN countries, including the U.S. and the EU, Turkey does not recognize Crimea as Russian territory.
Last Mod: 20 Ekim 2016, 07:41