President Zelensky calls for direct talks with Russia after Normandy Format meeting to resolve conflict in Donbas
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for renewed direct talks with Russia after welcoming political delegations from France and Germany on Jan. 11, according to the president’s press service.
The delegations, in Kyiv to meet with Presidential Chief-of-Staff Andriy Yermak, represent three of four sides in the Normandy Format, a negotiating group established by Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany to resolve the ongoing conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
Zelensky spoke highly of the joint effort made by the Normandy Format states to ensure the previous agreements were adhered to.
“It’s high time we discussed putting an end to the conflict,” said Zelensky.
“We’re ready for key decisions to be taken during the next Normandy Format summit.”
At the meeting in Kyiv, the parties also agreed to keep in touch at the advisor level within the Normandy Format group to coordinate the holding of the next meeting of the group.
Yermak reiterated that Ukraine was committed to resolving the conflict through diplomatic channels, and said such an approach was vital to ensuring a complete ceasefire, arranging for prisoner exchanges, and enabling the smooth functioning of checkpoints on the line of separation.
However, Russia’s Ukraine negotiator, Dmitriy Kozak, on Jan. 6 said he believed it “would be harmful to create” another negotiation framework in parallel to the Normandy Format.
In late December, Yermak said he was planning to have talks with Kozak to discuss the state of affairs in the Trilateral Contact Group, a group of negotiators from Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The contact group was created in 2014 to facilitate a diplomatic resolution to the Donbas conflict.
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