Russia frustrated after nine hours of failed negotiations
A senior Russian official has publicly expressed his annoyance after the second round of negotiations between political advisers of the Normandy Four nations (Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany) concluded without any significant progress on Thursday night.
Speaking at a late-night press conference, Kremlin Deputy Chief of Staff Dmitry Kozak admitted that it had not been possible for Russia and Ukraine to reconcile their conflicting positions regarding Minsk II, a treaty signed in 2015 in an attempt to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine’s Donbass region.
The Normandy Format was 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 group convened to find a solution for the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which began in 2014 after the events of the Maidan, when violent street protests toppled the democratically elected government in Ukraine. A year later, the group helped create Minsk II, an accord intended to create a path for Kiev to solve its crisis.
The four countries met for the first time this year last month, when political advisers came together in Paris for a round of discussions, with the idea of coming to a consensus on the future of the treaty agreed in Minsk seven years ago. Although the previous meeting was described as progressing the talks forward, Thursday's meeting appears to have been less successful.
“We did not manage to overcome [our disagreements],” Kozak mourned, in a briefing he gave alongside Ukrainian representative Andrey Yermak following the talks. “Unfortunately, almost nine hours of negotiations ended without any visible, tangible results.”
As things currently stand, Ukraine alleges that Russia is breaching Minsk II, which states that foreign troops must leave the Donbass region.
The Kremlin, on the other hand, says Ukraine is also not upholding its side of the bargain by refusing to give the Donbass special status, despite having previously agreed to do so. Kiev says granting further autonomy to the region via decentralization would affect the sanctity of the state of Ukraine.
Following Thursday's meeting, Kozak pinned the blame on Germany and France, accusing them of refusing to “show the necessary firmness” during the talks, making them pointless.
In turn, Yermak, who serves as chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, expressed hope that the advisers would talk again in the near future.
“I hope that we will meet again very soon and continue these negotiations. Everyone is determined to achieve a result,” he said.