Emerging from negotiations in what is known as the “Normandy” format in Berlin, Russia and Ukraine have agreed on steps to de escalate the conflict. Foreign Minister Maas had invited his Russian, Ukrainian and French counterparts to Berlin on Monday (11 June), in order to inject momentum into the peace process with a new round of talks. This was the first time in 16 months that the Foreign Ministers of Russia and Ukraine had sat down at the same table.
Committed to a ceasefire
After the meeting, all sides expressed their commitment to a lasting ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the conflict zone. It was stated that vital civilian infrastructure such as the water filtration station in Donetsk should be better protected. In addition, agreement was reached on talks to set up a United Nations peace mission.
“We owe it to the people”
Maas had travelled to the conflict region in eastern Ukraine last week. Fighting has continued there for years, and civilians have suffered the consequences. “We owe it to the people to do all we can to advance the peace process,” Maas said during his trip to the conflict zone. More than 10,000 people have been killed since fighting erupted in eastern Ukraine. Millions are living in ruins. Schools and hospitals have been destroyed.
Germany supports the independent OSCE observers in the conflict region. They monitor whether the sides to the conflict are adhering to the Minsk Agreement of 2014, in which both sides pledged among other things to uphold a ceasefire.
New impetus needed in the peace process
For Foreign Minister Maas, it is clear that the peace process needs new impetus. “Now these commitments have to be kept,” Maas stated after the talks. Germany will continue to provide substantial humanitarian assistance in the conflict region, in order to alleviate the suffering of the people in eastern Ukraine. In addition, Germany and France offered to provide additional funds and know how to support mine clearance efforts in the conflict zone.