• Ukraine summit set for Wednesday in Berlin


    PARIS: Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine will hold a summit in Berlin on Wednesday to “evaluate the implementation” of the Minsk peace accords for Ukraine, the French presidency said.

    The summit will also “discuss the next steps in the process towards ending the crisis in eastern Ukraine,” a statement said Tuesday.

    The meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Russian, French and Ukrainian presidents, Vladimir Putin, Francois Hollande and Petro Poroshenko, was set in a flurry of telephone consultations.

    The summit will be the first since October 2015 under the so-called “Normandy Format” grouping the four countries.

    Hollande last week called on all parties in the Ukraine conflict to draw up a roadmap to end the crisis.

    The aim would be to help Ukraine regain control of its borders with Russia, he said after speaking by telephone with Poroshenko.

    Hollande had spoken Wednesday with Merkel and Putin about organizing a summit on the conflict.

    Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, backs a separatist, pro-Moscow insurgency in eastern Ukraine that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives.

    Moscow has denied accusations that it has sent troops and weaponry across its border with Ukraine to fuel the conflict, which erupted in April 2014, destroying much of Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.

    Germany currently holds the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has monitors in eastern Ukraine.

    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 failed to stop it.

    Wednesday’s meeting will come amid tensions between France and Russia over Moscow’s role in the Syrian conflict that prompted Putin to cancel a visit to Paris.

    And in Brussels on Thursday the 28 leaders of the European Union are due to discuss relations with Russia including sanctions over Ukraine which come up for renewal at the end of the year.

    They are also expected to discuss Russia’s role in Syria. AFP



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