Putin meets Ukraine leader for first time at Paris peace summit

By John Irish PARIS (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy for the first time on Monday at a summit in Paris aimed at advancing efforts to restore peace to eastern Ukraine.

Reuters December 10, 2019 03:11:08 IST
Putin meets Ukraine leader for first time at Paris peace summit

Putin meets Ukraine leader for first time at Paris peace summit

By John Irish

PARIS (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy for the first time on Monday at a summit in Paris aimed at advancing efforts to restore peace to eastern Ukraine.

Zelenskiy and Putin are holding talks together with the leaders of France and Germany in a renewed effort to end a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014. (nL8N28F2Y1]

Diplomats however caution that the prospects for peace are bleak, with Zelenskiy, a comedian-turned-president, politically constrained at home and wary of conceding too much, and Putin showing little interest in bending to outside pressure.

After a series of bilateral meetings at the Elysee Palace, Putin and Zelenskiy entered the room for a meeting of the four leaders making little eye contact with one another and with no smiles. They did not shake hands for the cameras.

"The main issue is a question of confidence-building so that we can move towards the objective of restoring Ukraine's sovereignty," said a French diplomatic source.

There has been scant sign of a peaceful solution to the crisis despite a 2015 ceasefire deal in Minsk. Monday's summit is the first time the four leaders have met under the so-called Normandy format since 2016.

Many Ukrainians are concerned about compromising with Russia. They see Putin as an aggressor seeking to restore the Kremlin's influence on the former Soviet republic and ruin Ukraine's aspiration for closer European ties.

Kiev wants to seal a lasting ceasefire in the Donbass region, the exchange of all prisoners, and a timeline for the withdrawal of all illegal armed forces from regions under the control of Russia-backed separatists, Ukrainian officials said.

The summit comes at a time Macron's overtures to Putin for a reset of relations have unnerved European allies, in particular former communist countries in eastern and central European countries who cherish their European Union membership and rely heavily on NATO for their security.

French officials say the Paris summit is a test for Macron's strategy.

"As much as I am skeptical of Macron’s view of Russia, it would have been a mistake not to try unblocking the Donbass deadlock through a Normandy summit. Now let’s see what gives (or does not)," said Brune Tertrais, Deputy Director of the Paris-based Strategic Research Foundation.

Key to the Minsk accords succeeding are elections in the disputed eastern Donbass region of Ukraine, diplomats say. But both sides accuse each other of failing to stick to the 2015 deal, which includes restoring Ukrainian state control over the entire border with Russia and the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the conflict zone.

(Reporting by John Irish; editing by Richard Lough)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.