Russia, Ukraine, Germany & France confirm participation in summit over Donbass – Kiev
All participants of the Normandy Format have confirmed their participation in Wednesday’s crunch meeting of political advisers and will be heading to Paris for discussions over the future of the Donbass region, Kiev has confirmed.
Speaking in an interview with the Kiev-based ICTV channel, Ukrainian presidential spokesman Andrey Yermak expressed hope that the meeting will see constructive negotiations and help solve the current crisis in the east of the country.
Founded in 2014, when France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine met on the sidelines of a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the D-Day allied landings, the Normandy Format is tasked with resolving disputes in Ukraine’s Donbass region. The group has not met since 2019, despite increasing tensions in the Eastern European country. On Wednesday, officials from all four countries will meet, but the leaders themselves will not.
“This is a very powerful signal that the Normandy Format has finally been unblocked… all the representatives (political advisers) have confirmed their participation,” Yermak said. “I hope that our partners from Germany and France will take a proactive stance at these talks. We do not have a lot of time and opportunity right now to talk about this at length.”
The Russian delegation to Paris will be led by Dmitry Kozak, the Kremlin’s deputy chief of staff. Moscow has repeatedly expressed frustration about the Normandy Format, and the lack of progress seen in recent years regarding the war in Donbass. In particular, Russia has complained that Ukraine has not implemented Minsk II, a treaty drawn up by the Normandy Four in 2015.
Apart from a ceasefire, Minsk II also included an agreement for constitutional reform in Ukraine, with decentralization and extra powers for the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Thus far, this plan is yet to be implemented.
The conflict in Donbass began in 2014 after the events of the Maidan, when violent street protests toppled the democratically elected government in Ukraine. This eventually led to the two self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) declaring independence, a move recognized by neither Moscow nor Kiev. Ukraine believes Russia is backing the two republics.