Kiev (AP) - After the four-week ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, talks between Ukraine and Russia about a peace solution in the embattled region are on the way to being revived.
During a visit to the Ukrainian capital Kiev, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas expressed the hope that the foreign ministers of both countries could meet in September under Franco-German mediation. For this to happen, the implementation of all resolutions of the last Ukraine summit in December must at least have begun.
Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian separatists have been fighting each other in eastern Ukraine since 2014. Germany and France have tried to mediate since the beginning of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev - with moderate success. More than 20 armistices have since failed after a very short time.
The current ceasefire of July 27th, however, has lasted four weeks, longer than any before. However, minor violations are still reported every now and then.
After a meeting with his counterpart Dmitri Kuleba on Ukrainian Independence Day, Maas spoke of “substantial progress”. In addition to the ceasefire, this also applies to the agreed exchange of prisoners, the clearing of mines and the establishment of transition points between the areas of the conflicting parties.
These were all decisions made at the last Ukraine summit in December, at which Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron met. A follow-up summit was actually supposed to take place in Berlin in the spring; instead, at the end of April there was only a video conference of the foreign ministers without far-reaching results.
Now there seems to be a new opportunity for a noticeable rapprochement between the conflicting parties. "We have to use the positive momentum now," said the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba. There is every reason to believe that "the Russian Foreign Minister will join us," he said, and also spoke of meetings in September.
Zelenskyi was very confident about the ceasefire in his Independence Day speech. "Today is the 29th day without casualties in the combat zone in eastern Ukraine," he said. It is a good morning when there is no news of the dead and wounded. "May days of silence turn into months, years, centuries and later millennia."
Russia did not initially confirm that there could be a new meeting in September. "We don't know anything about it," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Sakharova in Moscow, according to the Tass state agency. Maas had also met his Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov a good one and a half weeks ago.
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