Notwithstanding Washington’s grandstanding on isolating Russian President Vladimir Putin, leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia have announced an October summit on ending the conflict in Ukraine.
Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko held a phone conversation on Wednesday to discuss the violence in Ukraine and “welcomed the maintenance of the ceasefire in southeast Ukraine”, said a Kremlin statement.
The four leaders will hold a summit in Paris in October 2.
“Particular attention was given to implementing the political provisions of the Minsk Agreements, first and foremost carrying out a constitutional reform in Ukraine, including legislating special status for the Donbass regions, as well as organising local elections and adopting a law on amnesty. In this regard, Vladimir Putin once again stressed the need to establish a full-fledged, direct dialogue between the Kiev authorities and representatives from southeast Ukraine,” added the Russian Presidency.
Ukraine’s local elections are scheduled to take place on October 25. There are disagreements between rebel groups and the Kiev government over the polls in rebel-held areas of Ukraine.
The Kremlin on Wednesday confirmed that the four leaders had welcomed efforts to maintain the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.
“A withdrawal of armoured vehicles, mortars with a caliber of up to 120 mm and artillery guns with a caliber up to 100 mm along the entire line of contact would facilitate the tasks of de-escalating the situation further and creating pre-conditions for the economic revival of the affected Donbass regions,” the statement said.
“Hope was expressed that a relevant agreement would be agreed upon and put together very soon,” the statement added.
Following talks on Wednesday, a statement from the French President’s office said everything must be done “to make this situation last and allow the OSCE special observer mission to have permanent, safe and unrestricted access”.
Merkel and Hollande also took part in discussions with Putin and the Ukrainian leader on Russian gas supplies to Kiev.
Russia and Ukraine failed to reach a new agreement on gas prices at talks in Vienna in June.
The two sides have been locked in dispute for four years over a 2009 contract, under which they agreed to tie the price of gas to the international spot price for oil.
The European Union says that one-fifth to one-fourth of its gas supplies come from Russia via the Ukraine. Six EU countries depend on Russia for 100 per cent of their gas imports.
The four foreign ministers will meet in Berlin on Saturday to come up with “concrete proposals” ahead of the October leaders summit.
Russia was suspended from the G8 last year over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and its alleged backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Russia denies the allegations.
The United Nations humanitarian office in April reported that 1.2 million people in Ukraine have now been internally displaced because of conflict in the country.
TBP and Agencies