News / Europe

    Russia, EU Leaders Agree to Work on Ukraine Cease-Fire

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and French President Francois Hollande in Moscow, Feb. 6, 2015.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and French President Francois Hollande in Moscow, Feb. 6, 2015.
    Daniel Schearf

    The leaders of France, Germany, and Russia have failed to reach a breakthrough peace deal on Ukraine during talks in Moscow. But they agreed to work on a shaky September cease-fire.

    The agreement came a day after the European leaders met Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv and follows a renewed assault by Russia-backed rebels. Ukrainians are hopeful for a lasting peace though many remain skeptical.

    A Kremlin spokesman described Ukraine peace talks Friday between French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Russian President Vladimir Putin as constructive and substantive.

    Dmitry Peskov indicated no new deal was reached after five hours of closed-door, private discussions in Moscow. But he said they agreed to work on a September cease-fire drawn up in the Belorussian capital, Minsk, that has been routinely violated.

    Peskov said Putin, Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko will engage in four-way talks by telephone Sunday.

    French sources say those talks will focus on reviving a tattered peace deal signed in September that has since been discarded by both sides. More than a quarter of the rebellion's nearly 5,400 fatalities have occurred since then.

    Deals under way

    Ukraine insists that any new accord must honor cease-fire boundaries agreed on in September and can not include territory gained by rebels in recent weeks of heavy fighting.

    Based on proposals made by the president of France and the German Chancellor, he said, work is under way to prepare the text of a possible joint document on implementation of the Minsk agreements.

    The Minsk deal was supposed to end clashes in Ukraine and see a withdrawal of foreign fighters and military equipment. But western and Ukrainian officials accuse Russia of continuing to supply and support rebels fighting government forces in the east. The Kremlin denies it.

    Peskov said the four leaders on Sunday will discuss the results of the Moscow meeting and work on the possible document.

    He said the document would include proposals of the Ukrainian president and proposals formulated and added today by President Putin.

    The Moscow meeting follows a sudden trip Thursday to Kyiv where the European leaders discussed a peace plan with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko.

    The renewed diplomatic effort comes after an upsurge in fighting between government forces and Russia-backed rebels and as the United States considers arming Ukraine.

    Diplomats meet in Brussels

    In Brussels Friday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accused Russia of continuing to escalate the conflict in Ukraine "by sending in mercenaries and tanks."

    "Ukraine is fighting for the very survival now," Biden told reporters at a joint press briefing with President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. "This is the moment the U.S. and Europe must stand together. Russia cannot be allowed to redraw the map of Europe, because that's exactly what they are doing."

    Biden is among the world leaders, diplomats and defense officials expected in Munich later Friday for a three-day security conference where the Ukraine crisis is high on the agenda. Top world leaders, diplomats and defense officials are expected at the conference, including Poroshenko, Biden, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

    Also Friday, pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian officials agreed to a temporary truce that allows for a humanitarian corridor so civilians can be evacuated from battle-scarred areas in eastern Ukraine. Convoys of buses converged Friday on the town of Debaltseve, where the population has been trapped in the crossfire of fierce fighting.

    The United Nations refugee agency reported that the fighting in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region has pushed the number of registered internally displaced people nationwide to 980,000. The UNHCR said another 600,000 Ukrainians have sought asylum or other forms of legal stay in neighboring countries, including Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Poland, Hungary and Romania, since last February.

    US diplomatic efforts

    On Thursday in Kyiv, Kerry blamed pro-Russian separatists and the Kremlin for the escalating violence in eastern Ukraine, saying Putin "can make the choices that could end this war."

    Kerry spoke after talks with the president.  "We want a diplomatic resolution," he said. "But we can not close our eyes to the tanks that are crossing the [Russian] border coming into Ukraine."

    Russia has repeatedly denied direct involvement in the 10-month rebellion, which has claimed nearly 5,400 lives.

    Lethal aid

    Ahead of his meeting with Kerry, Ukraine's president told Germany's Die Welt newspaper the recent upsurge in fighting should move NATO to provide Ukraine with more support, including modern weapons.

    "We still need a lot of military, technical, and specialist help to improve the fighting strength of the Ukrainian army," Poroshenko said in the interview. The Obama administration is evaluating those proposals, but has so far stopped short of providing Kyiv with lethal aid.

    Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Thursday that reports Washington may provide Kyiv with "modern lethal weapons" are a cause for "serious concern." Such a move, he said, would not only worsen the situation in eastern Ukraine, but "threaten the security of Russia, whose territory has been subjected to repeated attacks from the Ukrainian side."

    He added that such a decision "may cause enormous damage to U.S.-Russian relations," especially if residents of eastern Ukraine are killed by American weapons.

    Putin holds emergency meeting

    In Moscow, the Kremlin reported Putin held an emergency meeting of his advisory Security Council to discuss the Ukraine situation, in light of his meeting with Merkel and Hollande.

    Fighting in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine surged after last week's breakdown of the latest round of peace talks aimed at ending the rebellion.

    Watch related report from VOA's Carla Babb:

    European, US Leaders in Diplomatic Push for Peace in Ukrainei
    X
    February 06, 2015 3:19 AM
    French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel went to the Ukrainian capital with a cease-fire proposal to end the violence in eastern Ukraine. Also in Kyiv, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for an “immediate commitment” to a cease-fire. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has more from NATO headquarters.

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    by: Terry from: Canada
    February 08, 2015 3:44 PM
    @rs from: Colorado The first thing you should understand is that I have the utmost respect for the American people but it is your corrupt government that you all need to get control of. I have many friends in the US and do NOT want to see them end up in a war that only serves to make money for the big corporations and the bankers. Instead of Obama trying to cut spending and help bring the economy back he is spending money like a fool trying to start a war because America has always done very good after a war but you won't be around when that happens. He has also signed hundreds of executive orders and you would be smart to go and read them.

    by: kahnya babij from: Michigan
    February 07, 2015 11:54 PM
    While everyone is talking , people are still dying , innocent civilians, would we not also want any type of help that we could get

    by: Dellstator from: US
    February 07, 2015 10:14 PM
    Peace talks, talk, talk, talk, as long as billionaires still get to resell Russian energy at huge markups, sell Russia weapons, warships, and luxuries, reap fortunes laundering money for Russian "businessmen". The West had ONE card to use short of WWIII, total cold war trade, banking, travel embargo, and the billionaires who own Western Gov't decided long ago, that would interfere with profits.
    Leaders of the Ukraine, sell out to Putin before you end up in a dungeon, buy an island somewhere and live in luxury.
    People of the Ukraine, get numb and dumb on that vodka Putin froze the price on - see he is your friend after all.

    by: Tobyanna from: Austria
    February 07, 2015 5:57 PM
    It seems like the sanctions needed to escalate faster - He's just aggravates and phony like the old Soviet - It's just emptied inside of it ......IMHO Best regards ,

    by: Terry from: Canada
    February 07, 2015 5:08 PM
    There will be no peace in Ukraine no matter what these parties agree to because the US wants war and they own Poroshenko .Even if Putin agreed to every single option the US would just add demands to the talks until they fell apart. Until someone like Putin tells the US to pound sand this will continue. The US doesn't care because their guys aren't getting killed so stirring up a hornets nest is their specialty.
    In Response

    by: rs from: Colorado
    February 07, 2015 10:24 PM
    Terry.from Canada. ..u must be a 1st grader. The U.S. doesn't care? With comments like that...move to Russia please.

    by: Different Day from: PA, USA
    February 07, 2015 3:59 PM
    The USA is smart to stay out of both of their games, and treat both countries like they are North Korean clowns who are up to no good.

    by: Leonid from: Ukraine
    February 07, 2015 12:31 PM
    I do not understand. We did not attack Russia. We did not occupy territory of Russia. Now we have to give Russia two region because Germany and France wish it, or everybody is frightened of Russia. If we give Donetsk and Lugansk, we are made to give Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Zaporozhye then. I totally agree Senator McCain. “Do not believe in Putin, his word is worthless.”
    In Response

    by: M from: UK
    February 07, 2015 1:59 PM
    Russia turned down the request of Lugansk and Donetsk to join Russia, knowing that they are poor and on third word level (even if those two are used to be the richest part of Ukraine :) )

    So why they would need that at the moment, after twelve month of intensive fight,that destroyed the infrastructure over there?


    And you would expect them to live in Ukraine, in a country that not simply bankrupt corrupt , but fighting a war again its own population?

    by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston; USA.
    February 07, 2015 8:58 AM
    The line of leadership and the very nature and candidness of talks that can solve a lot of problems in this world. The Franco-Germany efforts to resolving the Ukraine crisis taking Russia into confidence is also one of the right steps in this direction. The Poroshenko govt. in Kiev is a beleaguered side in this turmoil. First and foremost thing that the Minsk pact should be respected by the Kiev govt. and the rebel side. To add more stability to this, top European leaders like Her Excellency Angela Merkel, His Excellency Francois Hollande and patriarch Putin should add more constructiveness to it.......It's a Russo-Ukranian problem, alright, but the very problem does now expand to bloc rivalry that had been during the unfortunate cold war years across the Berlin wall. I do correctly remember the august statement of the former president Gorbachev - for averting the WW III, the Iron Curtain was downed in Europe. And the Ukrainian crisis must not give any ilk of fillip to the resurgence of that situation again in Europe. It should be resolved as per its current dimension without complicating it further. Certainly, top leadership line European talks in good faith can do this.

    by: James from: Reston, VA
    February 06, 2015 10:57 PM
    A "deep wound" between Russian and Ukraine has been opened by the US pumping $5 billion into the Maidan riots, murdering, via snipers, the police and protesters, and violently overthrowing the legitimately-elected government. The US and its puppet Poroshenko are not interested in peace, only in more weapons.
    In Response

    by: slavko
    February 07, 2015 4:54 PM
    If Putin had an interest in keeping the peace, Putin would not have sent his instigators into Ukraine. He would not have sent his military into Crimea to abscond with it. He would not have sent the same instigators into Donbas. You call it riots, but the people were simply fed up with Yanukovitch's lies and corruption. He was elected on a platform of closer economic ties to Europe. Yanukovitch's own Party of the Regions deserted him and voted against him. It was a parliamentary procedure that occurred to remove him as President and then he ran away like a coward. Now even Putin doesn't want to know him for his lack of backbone. Ukrainian people did not want NATO because they had the Budapest Memorandum which Russia had signed guaranteeing Ukraine's sovereignty and borders. Putin has done all this murdering and he has the blood of a brotherly people on his own hands. It is Russian heavy weaponry that is in Eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian government does not have the sophistication of the weaponry being used by the so called separatists aka Russian soldiers.

    by: biff Michael Appia from: USA
    February 06, 2015 10:02 PM
    But no dialogue on the homosexual agenda of Russia. No talk about the largest European country is like going Nazi to homosexuals in Russia. Oh well. In the U.S. we are told it is the homosexuals that caused hurricane Katrina. It is very "700 Club" & "Buckwild " here.

    "War Against the Weak", Edwin Black.
    In Response

    by: Rico from: Australia
    February 08, 2015 3:04 AM
    with all the due respect, what this has to do with homosexuality? 5400 people died because of a game US and Russia are playing and all you can think about is your own little agenda?
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