Ukraine-Russia peace summit delayed until after pandemic

Ukraine-Russia peace summit delayed until after pandemic
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A Ukraine-Russia peace summit will be postponed until after the new coronavirus pandemic has subsided, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky indicated on Wednesday.

Such a summit was initially expected in April and was to be mediated by France and Germany.

"Because of the coronavirus, all countries are dealing with their own problems," Zelensky said at a press conference. "It is complicated but we have discussed it with Germany and France and everybody agrees to have a meeting of the Normandy format as soon as the pandemic has subsided," he added.

The Normandy format refers to the fact that leaders of the four countries came together on the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

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Zelensky revoiced his support for direct negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, though critics fear that Zelensky, who has been in office for a year, might make unacceptable concessions to Putin.

"Even if society is divided over direct negotiations" between the two Presidents, "I am sure we have to do so," Zelensky said. "There are some things you can only understand on a one-to-one basis," he argued.

In December, a Normandy format summit in Paris made some timid progress in the peace process in eastern Ukraine.

After this initial meeting, the four leaders were to meet again in April, but the lack of progress in implementing the decisions announced in Paris and, above all, the pandemic, put this meeting on hold.

The war with the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine has left more than 13,000 people dead and nearly 1.5 million displaced since its outbreak in 2014. 

The peace agreements signed in Minsk in 2015 under international mediation led to a considerable reduction in violence, but the political settlement has made no progress since then. 

The Brussels Times

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