Germany Trying to Revive Faltering Ukraine Ceasefire Deal
The foreign ministers of Germany and Russia will discuss renewed tensions in Ukraine on Tuesday in a bid to prevent further esclation of the conflict.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is travelling to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov following a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev earlier on Tuesday, in which they discussed possible talks on Ukraine's restive eastern region of Donbas with the participation of Germany, France and Poland.
Steinmeier has repeatedly warned of worsening situation in Ukraine over the past week, in particular saying pro-Russian rebels in the country’s eastern regions might be bracing for heavy fighting with the Ukrainian government troops. He has ruled out a military solution to the conflict, arguing that a political one is the only way forward.
Germany's foreign ministry has been increasingly worried by the reported movement of Russian military hardware and personnel across the border with Ukraine as well as intensified fighting between Kiev government forces and pro-Russian rebels, saying the fighting pointed to the fragility of the ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk in September.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also expressed concern, warning of a possible escalation of the Ukrainian conflict on Monday.
Last week, Moscow dismissed OSCE and NATO statements about Russian military convoys moving across the border into Ukraine as groundless.
According to Steinmeier, the Minsk accord had already laid the foundations for a political solution, which could only be achieved if the parties to the agreement continued to honour their commitments.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday in Minsk that no one expects a breakthrough in Ukrainian settlement from the visit of his German counterpart to Moscow but opined it is important that Germany will help find well-balanced solutions.
Lavrov added that his talks with Steinmeier would focus not only on Ukraine, but also prospects for development of Russian-German relations.
Meanhwile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned of considerable Russian military build-up both inside Ukraine and on the Russian side of the border.
As he arrived for a meeting with European Union defence ministers in Brussels, Stoltenberg urged Russia to withdraw its troops from the border and to respect the provisions of the Minsk ceasefire agreement.
The government in Kiev said on Tuesday six Ukrainian soldiers had been killed over the past 24 hours, bringing to more than 140 the number of government troops killed in eastern Ukraine since the ceasefire was announced on September 5.
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