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Germany, France and Russia may hold summit on Ukraine

October 12, 2021

The German and French governments are hoping to meet with Russian and Ukrainian leaders to discuss the conflict in the Donbass, which erupted in 2014. Meanwhile, the EU's Ursula von der Leyen will visit Kyiv on Tuesday.

Ukrainian servicemen walk in eastern Ukraine amid fighting with Russia-backed separatists
The war has devastated parts of eastern UkraineImage: Aleksey Filippov/AFP/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone on Monday regarding a solution to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Talks could be held in Normandy format

Zelenskyy's office said the four countries may soon meet for a summit on the conflict, in what is known as the Normandy format. The German and French governments have previously mediated between Russia and Ukraine as part of this diplomatic arrangement. 

The Kremlin also called for a summit on the conflict, but did not mention whether Ukrainian officials would take part in the meetings. The Russian government said European leaders have asked their respective foreign ministers to "intensify their contacts" and work on the "difficult" situation in Ukraine.

A concrete date for the meeting has not yet been determined, though Merkel spokesperson Steffen Seibert did confirm plans for the gathering.

Merkel visited Ukraine and Russia in August and expressed hope that peace negotiations between Ukraine and pro-Russia separatists would continue after she left office.

What is the background of the Donbass conflict?

The conflict in eastern Ukraine began in 2014 following the Russian annexation of Crimea that same year. The war has claimed over 13,000 lives.

A 2015 peace deal, known as Minsk 2, has failed to put an end to the fighting. Tensions escalated earlier this year due to a Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border, before Moscow retreated a few weeks later.

The Ukrainian Village at the Front

Russia has accused Ukraine of not abiding by peace negotiations, while Kyiv has said Moscow is "aggravating" the situation in the Donbass region.

The latest phone calls between Merkel, Macron, Putin and Zelensky come ahead of a visit by high-ranking EU officials to Ukraine on Tuesday. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel are expected to deepen the bloc's economic and scientific ties with Kyiv during the visit.

wd/jsi (AFP, dpa)