No breakthrough after nine-hour-long Normandy talks
Advisor-level Normandy format talks in Berlin did not result in a breakthrough and no final document was agreed upon, said Ukraine’s Presidential Chief-of-Staff Andriy Yermak at a briefing on Feb. 10.
“Today we have not been able to agree on a single document,” said Yermak.
“The talks lasted for over nine hours. However, I would like to say that it would be very good if after a long break we could finally come to some sort of agreement at the next round of Normandy format talks. There is definitely the desire to make that happen. We will keep working and I think we will be meeting again very soon.”
The Normandy format, a discussion forum involving Ukraine, France, Germany, and Russia, was created as a way for high-level representatives of all four countries to mediate issues involving Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and its eastern Donbas territories.
Following the meeting, which included Deputy Chief-of-Staff for the Russian President Dmitry Kozak, the German chancellor’s chief foreign policy adviser, Jens Ploetner, and the French president’s diplomatic advisor, Emmanuel Bonne, all Normandy participants expressed their support for implementing a ceasefire and expressed their wish to continue the talks.
“We have had yet another discussion today… All the parties have confirmed that they wish to keep talking, that is very important. And everyone is interested in continuing Normandy format talks,” Yermak said.
Yermak added the Trilateral Contact Group, involving Ukraine, Russia and OSCE, should be restarted again in order to regulate the situation in Russian-occupied Donbas.
“All the Normandy members would like the TCG process to be effective,” said Yermak.
“Unfortunately, the TCG has not been taking decisions as of late.”
Earlier, one representative of Ukraine’s delegation to the TCG, Serhiy Garmash, said that the TCG blockage is due to Russia’s insistence that Ukraine deal with the Russian proxy authorities in the Donbas directly, instead of with Russia.
The previous round of Normandy format talks was held in Paris on Jan. 26, and resulted in a joint communiqué. At the time, all four advisors again expressed their support for implementing an unconditional ceasefire in Russian-occupied Donbas, though such a ceasefire has been part of the peace process since 2015, and has yet to be observed in full.
In February 2021, Ukraine’s Minister for the Reintegration of Russian-Occupied Territories, Oleksii Reznikov said the Minsk settlement peace process had practically been blocked since July 2020.
Russia’s Kozak claims there are “irreconcilable differences” on how to interpret the Minsk settlement between Russia and Ukraine.
Since the end of Oct. 2021, Russia has been massing troops close to Ukraine’s borders. Russia has since deployed more than 130,000 troops and offensive weapons near the Ukrainian border and in the temporarily occupied territories, according to the latest intelligence estimate from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
International media have speculated that Russia may invade Ukraine in early 2022, in an operation that could involve up to 200,000 Russian soldiers.
The Kremlin says the troop movements are an internal affair of the Russian Federation.
At the same time, Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukraine of planning “provocations,” and alleged that Kyiv plans to regain control of the occupied territories by military means. The Kremlin has failed to back up any of its allegations with evidence, however.
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