Germany, France voice cautious hope on Ukraine peace process

- AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BERLIN
Russian FM Lavrov says both sides discussed a ‘road map’ for a prisoner exchange of people being held by Kiev and Moscow

Jun 13, 2018-Germany and France voiced cautious optimism on Monday that Russia and Ukraine will take steps to revive the long-stalled peace process in the smouldering Ukraine war that has claimed 10,000 lives.

Despite high tensions between Western powers and President Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the four foreign ministers held their first meeting since early last year to revitalise a long ignored truce agreement.

After “countless ceasefire violations” in recent months, said the Berlin talks’ host, Germany’s top diplomat Heiko Maas, “it was all the more necessary that we have met again here after 16 months.”

Russia and Ukraine had again formally committed to the key tenets of the 2015 Minsk agreement, brokered by Germany and France, he said. “All sides once more voiced support for a lasting ceasefire, including the withdrawal of heavy weapons, the disengagement of troops and demining, and the protection and granting of access to the OSCE Observer Mission,” he said.

Russia’s Sergei Lavrov said that “of course we have not been able to solve all the problems related to the implementation of the Minsk agreements to settle the internal Ukrainian crisis, but I believe that this meeting was very useful.”

Lavrov said both sides had discussed a ‘road map’ for a prisoner exchange of people being held by Kiev and Moscow, reported state news agency RIA Novosti.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also saw “a positive dynamic for what I hope will be a peaceful solution”, adding that Paris and Berlin had offered to assist in demining operations.In the long run, he said, “we are ready to work on the parameters of a possible United Nations mission for eastern Ukraine when the implementation of the Minsk agreements will allow it”.

Even if the guns were to fall silent, that issue is tricky.While Moscow favours blue-helmet troops only along the frontline, Kiev would want them to also police the Ukraine-Russian border to prevent soldiers and weapons from crossing.

Published: 13-06-2018 08:49

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