France’s Hollande sees Ukraine summit next month
France believes a new four-way summit on Ukraine is possible next month in the light of "progress" in the crisis, the French government said Wednesday.
At a weekly cabinet meeting, President Francois Hollande said “progress has been made and a (summit)… is feasible in July,” spokesman Stephane Le Foll told reporters.
Hollande referred specifically to the “Normandy format” for a meeting on Ukraine — the term for a summit that took place on June 6 2014 on the sidelines of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
It gathered Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
The Normandy meeting helped pave the way to the February 2015 Minsk accord, which calls for a ceasefire and a range of political, economic and social measures to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
However, the ethnically Russian region remains a flarepoint, and violence there occurs almost daily.
Russia is accused by Ukraine and its western allies of fomenting trouble on the heels of its annexation of Crimea after the pro-Moscow regime in Kiev was ousted by a popular revolt.
More than 9,300 civilians and fighters from both sides have perished and, according to UN figures, about 1.8 million people have fled.
Le Foll gave no details about the progress that Hollande said had been made.
In Moscow, Kremlin advisory Yury Ushakov said the four leaders “are discussing current issues in the Normandy format by phone” but he expressed reservations.
“To organise a summit, you have to set down the foundations for adopting a document and which culminate in a practical outcome for resolving the Ukrainian crisis,” Ushakov said.
“At present, the premises for valuable work of this kind have not been fulfilled.”
On Tuesday, EU ambassadors agreed to roll over economic sanctions against Russia for six months in the absence of any forward movement, European sources said.
The measures, targeting the oil, financial and defence sectors of the Russian economy, were first imposed after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014 over eastern Ukraine.
Sources told AFP that envoys from the 28 member states of the European Union (EU) approved the decision in principle, which will now go to ministers for formal approval, possibly on Friday.