Ukraine reveals Biden-Zelensky understanding on Donbass
US President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, have agreed Washington will step up its efforts in the ongoing conflict in the Eastern European nation’s Donbass region, a Ukrainian official has said.
The two leaders spoke on the telephone on Thursday. Following their conversation, Andrey Yermak, a senior advisor to Zelensky, appeared on the TV show “Right to Authority,” where he reported that the Ukrainian president “discussed with Biden formats for the participation of the US in settling Donbass.”
Yermak insisted that the White House has kept a close eye on developments in the Donbass. He also emphasized that Germany and France have continued to play a role in mediating talks designed to bring an end to conflict in the region. He revealed that he will be traveling to Brussels next week, where he will meet with European leaders in the hopes of arranging a meeting of the four “Normandy Format” nations.
The Normandy Format talks are held between Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France for the purpose of addressing the ongoing conflict in Donbass. The group formed in 2014, after separatists in the eastern region of Ukraine established self-declared breakaway republics, resulting in a civil war.
Kiev has accused Russia of supporting the rebels and fueling the war, which the Kremlin denies. In 2014 and 2015, the two nations signed the “Minsk Protocols,” agreements designed to resolve the conflict, but Moscow has said that Ukraine failed to hold its end of the bargain by refusing to negotiate with the separatists.
Earlier this week, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov reported that President Vladimir Putin was not currently considering inviting the US to the Normandy Format talks, saying, “the fact that Kiev isn’t following the Minsk protocol has made the format’s effectiveness very slight. But still, both Paris and Berlin thought the format was sufficient, and that there is no need to enlarge it.”
On Thursday, however, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told journalists that Moscow wasn’t opposed to the US joining the talks, but that “we don’t quite understand what the Americans can bring to this format.”