Putin, European Leaders to Meet in Minsk This Week

Putin, European Leaders to Meet in Minsk This Week
Fecha de publicación: 
9 February 2015
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After a telephone conference call with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, it was agreed to hold a summit next Wednesday in Minsk, Belarus, the site of the previous negotiations between Kiev and the pro-Russian separatists in the far eastern portion of Ukraine.

The German chancellor said that the four countries worked on a “broad package of measures” to achieve a “global solution” to the conflict that will not be limited to a temporary cessation of hostilities.

Putin said upon meeting with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko that the summit will only take place if the parties have managed to “agree on a series of points” that they have been “actively” discussing, an allusion to the French-German peace initiative that has been the focus of top-level efforts over the past couple of days.

“We hope that (in Minsk) important decisions will be made,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The preparations for the summit will be undertaken in earnest on Monday by experts in Berlin after in Munich assorted informal meetings regarding Ukraine were held on the weekend within the framework of the Munich Security Conference.

In an attempt to get all the loose ends tied up prior to the summit, on Tuesday a new meeting of the Contact Group – the forum in which Kiev and the pro-Russian separatists, with the mediation of Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, have been negotiating – will be held.

Besides Kiev, the representatives of the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk have already confirmed their attendance at the summit, despite the fact that the previous round of talks was a dialogue of the deaf given that the separatists do not recognize former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma as Kiev’s lead negotiator.

At that upcoming meeting, Russian sources said, the parties will discuss a cease-fire and a mechanism to supervise compliance with the Sept. 2014 Minsk peace accords.

The status of the separatist territories may also be discuss, although Kiev’s stance is that it will only grant them limited autonomy after local elections are held, while the rebels – for the moment – are not renouncing their aspirations for full independence.

Merkel will attend the Minsk summit, if it comes to pass, upon her return from the United States, where she is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama, who has supported the European initiative but has also stated Washington’s view that Kiev has the right to defend itself and is contemplating providing it with weaponry.

The conflict in Ukraine, fomented – Western powers contend – by Russia, has left more than 5,600 people dead since it erupted in April 2014.

Meanwhile, 12 Ukrainian soldiers died over the past 24 hours in fighting with pro-Russian militants, the Ukrainian military command announced Sunday. In addition, 24 soldiers were wounded after separatist forces staged more than 100 attacks on Ukrainian government positions in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Poroshenko on the weekend at the Munich Security Conference estimated that there had been some 1,500 casualties among Ukrainian troops in the conflict since last April.

Kiev also reported on Sunday that 70 rebels died in combat and 14 tanks, armored vehicles, Grad missile launchers and artillery pieces being used by the separatists were destroyed by Ukrainian forces.

Meanwhile, civilians continue to flee the town of Debaltsevo, in the Donetsk region, which is one of the country’s main railroad hubs and has been the epicenter of bitter fighting and artillery bombardments since last week.

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