World Bulletin / News Desk
Russian President Vladimir Putin heads to Berlin on Wednesday for a summit focussing on escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over the Kremlin's strategy in Ukraine and Syria.
The meeting -- the first in a year between the Russian, German, French and Ukrainian leaders -- will "evaluate the implementation" of the Minsk peace accords for Ukraine, Berlin and Paris said Tuesday.
The talks take place on the eve of a European Union summit in Brussels on relations with Russia, including sanctions over Ukraine, which come up for renewal at the end of the year.
The two-day Brussels meeting is also expected to discuss Russia's role in Syria, which sparked a furious row between Russia and France last week, prompting Putin to cancel a visit to Paris.
Wednesday's summit will "discuss the next steps in the process towards ending the crisis in eastern Ukraine," the French president's office said Tuesday.
All sides agreed to a peace deal brokered by Germany and France in February 2015, but while the Minsk accords reduced the intensity of fighting, they failed to stop it.
Even before the Berlin meeting convened, all sides tamped down hopes for a breakthrough.
Merkel said that despite continued diplomatic efforts since the last four-way summit in the so-called Normandy Format in Paris in October 2015, "we have not achieved what we wanted to achieve".
"Things are stalled in many areas such as the ceasefire, political issues and humanitarian issues," she told reporters in Berlin.
"I have to say that we cannot expect a miracle but it is worth every effort at this point."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko echoed Merkel's sober assessment on a visit to Oslo.
"Let's not have very high expectations on this meeting," he said.
"Am I optimistic enough? Yes I'm very optimistic about the future of Ukraine but unfortunately not so optimistic about tomorrow's meeting."
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin believed there was "no alternative" to implementing the Ukraine accords.
"We know that on this point, the situation leaves much to be desired," he said. "For the moment, Kiev is doing nothing."Last Mod: 18 Ekim 2016, 16:41