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Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Moscow and Kyiv for talks

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on arrival in Moscow

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on arrival in Moscow, © Xander Heinl/photothek.net

18.01.2019 - Article

INF Treaty and the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine in the spotlight

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is travelling to Moscow and Kyiv for political talks today (18 January). He is due to discuss the future of the INF Treaty on intermediate-range nuclear missiles with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Other issues on the agenda will include Syria, the conflict in Ukraine and Russia’s membership of the Council of Europe.

Foreign Minister Maas will meet his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin in Ukraine. Their talks will also hone in on the ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine. In addition to this, the two Foreign Ministers will talk about the continuation of the reform process in Ukraine.

Russia’s responsibility

Foreign Minister Maas said that he would remind Russia of its special responsibility to preserve the INF Treaty and that he would continue to work to ensure its preservation. Germany and its NATO allies believe that Russia has violated the Treaty by developing new intermediate-range weapons. 

Maas said that a key set of rules for Europe’s security was therefore at risk. It is now up to Russia to restore confidence and take credible steps to demonstrate its resolve to comply with the Treaty.

Russia also has a special role to play with regard to achieving progress in the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine. “The dialogue with Russia continues to be necessary in order to solve these problems,” emphasised Maas prior to his departure for Moscow.

Ukraine must continue reforms with all due resolve

Foreign Minister Maas will also discuss the conflict in Ukraine with his Ukrainian counterpart Klimkin. The confrontation worsened once again following an incident in the Sea of Azov in November 2018 in the course of which 24 Ukrainian seamen were detained by Russia.

Meanwhile, the suffering of the people in the conflict region in Eastern Ukraine continues unabated. The people in the Donbass region therefore, at long last, need prospects for peace, emphasised Maas prior to his departure, adding that the Minsk process remained the roadmap for a way out of the conflict. This package of agreements to put an end to the violence and achieve lasting peace in eastern Ukraine was signed in February 2015 with Germany and France acting as mediators. These agreements have yet to be implemented, however.   

To achieve lasting stability, however, Ukraine must also continue its “reform process both now and after the elections with all due resolve”, said Maas. Presidential elections are scheduled to be held in Ukraine at the end of March 2019.

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