MOSCOW: The Kremlin said Wednesday it does not expect any breakthrough in resolving the conflict in Ukraine at international talks set to start in Berlin.
“We do not expect any breakthroughs,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters hours before President Vladimir Putin was scheduled to meet the leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine to discuss the unrest in the ex-Soviet nation.
“Ideally the best result would be Ukraine’s obligation to fulfill the Minsk (peace) agreements in the way that was determined in the document signed by the heads of state concerned. But ideal objectives do not always correspond to reality.”
Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, is backing a pro-Moscow insurgency in eastern Ukraine that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives since it erupted over two years ago.
Moscow has denied accusations that it has sent troops and weaponry across its border to fuel the conflict that has destroyed much of Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.
Wednesday’s talks will see Putin travel to Berlin for the first time since the conflict broke out and come 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.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he did not have “very high expectations” for the talks.
All sides agreed to a peace deal brokered by Germany and France in February 2015, but while the so-called Minsk accords reduced the intensity of fighting, they have failed to stop it.
The conflicts in Ukraine and Syria have seen Moscow’s relations with the West plunge to their post-Cold War nadir. AFP