Paris / Kiev (dpa) – During a crisis discussion over the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Chancellor Angela Merkel asked Russia to withdraw its troops along the Ukrainian border.
This is the only way to de-escalate the situation, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in Berlin on Friday evening.
France followed suit. Merkel shared concerns about the strengthening of Russian troops, he said. Russia, as a remaining member, had not been invited to the meeting.
For nearly seven years, parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions along the Russian border in eastern Ukraine have been controlled by separatists loyal to Moscow. According to UN estimates, more than 13,000 people have died since then. The latest troop forays into Russian and Ukrainian soil has recently raised international concerns about a possible escalation of the conflict.
Selesnkyi said after the video switch that he hoped for a summit meeting with his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin. “I think we are approaching the next Normandy Four meeting. I think it is possible, ”said Zelenskyj during his visit to Paris. The Norman format goes back to a meeting of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine in Normandy.
It was said from the French presidential palace that the visit of the Ukrainian head of state should give new impetus to the talks. Russia must be brought back to the negotiating table. The talks have been difficult for months.
The four-person stop in Berlin with Macron and Merkel should have been a year ago. There is no new date yet. According to Zelenskyi, a new consultation at the advisory level is planned next Monday. Germany and France mediate in the conflict.
In the conversation, Merkel and Macron reaffirmed their support for Ukraine’s independence. According to the Élysée, they also made specific demands on the Ukrainian president. As stated in Seibert’s communication, Merkel and Macron made it clear that it was necessary to fully implement the 2015 peace plan for Donbass on both sides. However, this agreement has been suspended.
At the meeting, Russia demanded that Merkel and Macron exercise their influence over Zelenskyi. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax office to deliver the message of the need to unconditionally respect the ceasefire on the contact line. Elysée circles had said beforehand that the fundamental goal of France was to maintain the armistice.
Just two weeks ago, Merkel and Marcon had spoken by phone to the Kremlin chief – without Zelenskyj and behind closed doors. Putin went on to express his concern about the “Ukraine-induced escalation of the armed confrontation”.
Meanwhile, new problems are brewing. Russia wants to hold a maneuver in the Black Sea and cordon off certain sea areas. However, navigation through the Kerch Strait in Crimea will not be affected by the planned closure on 31 October. The Russian state agency Ria Novosti reported this, citing the Ministry of Defense in the capital Moscow.
Yet there was criticism from the European Union, Ukraine and NATO. A senior EU official spoke of “an extremely worrying development”. According to him, it can be assumed that the rights of passage enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea will be limited and international shipping is hindered. The Kyiv Foreign Ministry accused Russia of “increasing escalation in the sea.”