Four-way phone talks Wednesday on Ukraine crisis: Kiev

29th December 2015, Comments 0 comments

The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France will hold a conference call Wednesday to assess implementation of a peace accord in pro-Russian eastern Ukraine, the government in Kiev said Tuesday.

The phone call will bring together Ukrainian, Russian and French presidents Petro Poroshenko, Vladimir Putin and Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Poroshenko conferred with Merkel on Tuesday "to coordinate positions", his office said in a statement.

The two also discussed "the implementation status of the Minsk agreement", a peace deal brokered in the Belarussian capital by France and Germany with Ukraine and Russia, it said.

Poroshenko's office also said pro-Russian rebels "increasingly violate the truce and engage in provocations" in an industrial region approximately the size of Wales that is home to about 3.5 million people and the centre of the splintered nation's coal and steel wealth.

The German chancellory did not confirm Tuesday's phone conversation between Kiev and Berlin, but Foreign Minister Walter Steinmeier urged the two fighting sides "to respect the ceasefire in the conflict zones, in the interests of the people".

His ministry said in a statement that "many important questions remain unanswered," adding that "in the coming year we will continue to support with all of our strength the implementation of the Minsk measures".

Last week Ukraine and pro-Russian insurgents reached a "New Year" truce agreement in another effort to stop the violence in the war-scarred ex-Soviet state.

A September 1 truce agreement significantly calmed deadly exchanges of artillery and missile fire along a 30-kilometre-wide (19-mile-wide) buffer zone separating rebel-run territory from the rest of Ukraine.

But a new upsurge in violence that began two weeks ago threatened the September deal.

"The Minsk process will continue in 2016 and will hopefully be better than this year," Oleksandr Turchynov, the head of Ukraine's Security and Defence Council, said Tuesday.

The United Nations estimates that more than 9,000 people -- most of them civilians -- have died since the rebel revolt began in April 2014.

© 2015 AFP

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