After the deaths of four Ukrainian soldiers on the border with the rebel areas in the east of the country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj has phoned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. "I ask you to act on the other side to end the murder of our people," he told Putin, Selensky told journalists. The phone call should have taken a long time. It was the second time that both heads of state spoke directly to each other.
As Putin reacted to his request, Selenskyj did not say. According to an announcement by the Kremlin, Putin has again condemned the bombardment of residential areas by the Ukrainian military. He then joined the presentation of the separatists, who claimed that they had only returned fire after government soldiers fired on a school.
The soldiers were killed the previous day in a shootout with pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk region. At the moment there is an indefinite cease-fire between the warring parties, yet there are always fights.
Selenskyj wants to revive the Normandy format
Selensky said that he saw the incident as an attempt to undermine Ukrainian peace efforts. According to his own information, he wants to contact German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday to arrange a joint meeting with Putin. "I want it to happen despite all the previous diplomatic agreements, so that we deal with each other in a human way and understand that this is very important," said the Ukrainian president.
Selenskyj had already announced at the beginning of his term, he wanted to make more meetings in the so-called Normandie format in which the heads of state and government of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine had already negotiated the 2015 Minsk agreement. The agreement sets conditions for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, but none of the parties has fully complied.
The Federal Government has expressed concern about the renewed outbreak of fighting in eastern Ukraine. "We now hope that we will be able to contain this, to keep the situation peaceful and to enter into talks," said a spokeswoman for the Foreign Office.
Putin is responsible for the separatists
In eastern Ukraine there has been a local civil war since 2014. In parallel with the annexation of Crimea by Russia, separatists in the two cities of Donetsk and Luhansk each proclaimed separate "people's republics". Officially, there is no state except the other territory that formally recognizes one of the territories. Allegations that Russia supports the separatists with weapons, supplies and fighters, has always rejected Putin. Since 2014, according to UN estimates, around 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and several million Ukrainians have fled abroad or west of the country.
Selensky was elected President of Ukraine at the end of April. The former satirist prevailed with over 70 percent approval against incumbent Petro Poroshenko. In July, his People Servant Party became the first party in the history of Ukraine to win parliamentary elections by an absolute majority. The central electoral promises of Selensky were not only a fight against corruption and economic reforms but also the ending of the civil war.