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12/02 – Ukraine Talks Continue in Minsk

The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany gathered in Minsk late Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to negotiate a peace agreement for Ukraine and quiet an escalating, year-old conflict that threatens to destabilise the European continent. EU HR Vice-President Federica Mogherini described the talks in advance as a turning point in the Ukraine crisis, “for better or worse,” Russian Kommersant and others report.

The talks are based on a 12-point peace agreement called the Minsk Protocol, signed here in September but violated almost immediately. In the Ukraine crisis, Europe has taken over the lead, Bernd Ulric notes in this opinion piece in Die Zeit. Many newspapers actually publish comments on the Ukrainian situation and the Minsk summit, since negotiations lasted through the night and since more work needs to be done before making official statements.

The web sources published this morning tend to say that there is hope for a peace deal. “The entire world is waiting to see whether the situation moves toward de-escalation, weapons pullback, cease-fire or spins out of control,” Mr Poroshenko said upon arriving in Minsk, as quoted by INYT. “The situation in Ukraine is being used as a pretext for the active ‘repression’ of our country,” said Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, as quoted by WSJE, but Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov said, while speaking in Moscow, that “noticeable progress” had been made during the preparations for the summit, the US newspaper reports in a separate article.

While Russian officials claim that the negotiations from the capital city of Belarus are less likely to fail, Western sources say that there are very low hopes, news portal reports, highlighting diverging opinions on the meeting’s chances of success. Alexander Jungkunz acknowledges, in a commentary in Nürnberger Nachrichten, that the German government indeed scaled-down its expectations about the Minsk II summit. According to Le Figaro‘s Pierre Avril, an agreement is within reach, provided that both sides demonstrate good will to end the conflict. ©EuropeanUnion2015

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