Germany Appeals to Moscow, Kiev Ahead of Four-Way Meeting
Ahead of a key meeting in Berlin, Germany has called upon Russia and Ukraine to move forward with the terms of the Minsk ceasefire accord.
“We expect both Moscow and Kyiv to seize the central issue of the implementation of the next phase of Minsk," Deutsche Welle quoted Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier as saying in an interview in Monday’s edition of German daily newspaper Die Welt.
The next phase foresees "the preparation of local elections in the areas occupied by the separatists, but also humanitarian access and reconstruction in eastern Ukraine," Steinmeier said.
The foreign ministers of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine will meet in Berlin on Monday evening to discuss the implementation of the Minsk agreement.
The accord, brokered by French and German leaders in February, has largely reduced fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine despite repeated violations.
European Council President Donald Tusk has linked the future of EU sanctions on Russia, which are due to be voted on again in June, to the implementation of the agreement. Tusk is working with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on a compromise proposal on the future of EU sanctions that he believes all 28 EU leaders would support, according to RIA Novosti.
Linking sanctions to full implementation of the Minsk deal would effectively mean extending them at least until the end of the year, because the document sets a year-end deadline for Ukraine to regain full control over its border, RIA Novosti commented.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 6,000 people since April 2014.
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