The agreed ceasefire in eastern Ukraine remains fragile. According to media reports, there is fighting in the eastern part of the country. On the margins of the Munich Security Conference (18 February), Foreign Minister Gabriel together with his counterparts from France, Russia and Ukraine issued a call for observance of the ceasefire. They had previously discussed the situation in eastern Ukraine in the Normandy format.
Escalation of violence in early February – ceasefire remains fragile
The agreed ceasefire in eastern Ukraine remains very fragile. After both the Ukrainian military and the pro‑Russian separatists had confirmed their intention to respect the ceasefire early this week (20 February), there are media reports that new fighting has flared up in the east of the country. Violence in eastern Ukraine had previously escalated again early this month. Most recently, there have been outbursts of artillery fighting in the city of Avdiivka, which is held by government troops.
Foreign Ministers issue joint call in the Normandy Format
On the margins of the Munich Security Conference, Foreign Minister Gabriel met with his counterparts from France, Russia and Ukraine in the so‑called Normandy format to discuss recent developments in eastern Ukraine. The Foreign Ministers issued a joint call for a ceasefire. After the meeting, the German Foreign Minister said that now, the aim must be “removing and securing heavy weapons from the area and giving the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission the opportunity to monitor where they are”.
An additional meeting is planned
“Without a ceasefire and without the withdrawal of heavy weapons, the political process cannot gain momentum,” Foreign Minister Gabriel said after the meeting in the Normandy format. “We will,” he went on, “meet again in a few weeks to continue working on the next steps in the political process.”
Federal Government criticises recognition by Russia of papers issued in the separatist region
Meanwhile, the Russian government has ordered that documents and identity papers issued in areas occupied by the separatists be recognised. The Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson, referring to the Minsk peace process, called this “a clear violation of the spirit and objectives of the Minsk agreement”. France, too, criticised this action by Russia.