News / Europe

    Ukraine Peace Process Flounders

    France Calls for Timetable for Ukraine Prisoner Exchange, Electionsi
    March 05, 2016 12:12 AM
    France's foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, called for a timetable for elections in eastern Ukraine and for release of prisoners on Thursday after meeting with his counterparts from Germany, Russia and Ukraine. While there has been no breakthrough in the region, VOA's Nike Ching reports there is a concern Russia is using the talks to tighten its grip.
    WATCH Related Video Report: France Calls for Timetable for Ukraine Prisoner Exchange, Elections

    There has been no breakthrough in the latest diplomatic attempt to implement a peace deal in eastern Ukraine, but observers say the so-called Minsk agreements are not "dead" yet.

    In Paris on Thursday, foreign ministers from France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine — the so-called Normandy Format — tried to get the peace process back on track. The terms agreed to in Minsk during February of 2015 were not fully carried out by the deadline, which was the end of last year.

    Analyst Jeff Rathke, Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Friday both Moscow-backed separatists and Kyiv need to do their parts to move on with a permanent cease-fire and political reforms to break the stalemate.  

    "On the one hand, decisions have to be made by the Ukrainian authorities,” he said, “but most importantly is the need for the separatists backed by Russia to do their part, and so that remains as a problem, as progress is correspondingly slow and there [have] been no breakthroughs."

    Rathke told VOA that Russia's intention in participating in the talks is trying to "find a way out of the sanctions" posed by the West. 

    A senior State Department official told VOA a full cease-fire and heavy-weapons withdrawal is needed for the implementation of political, economic and humanitarian aspects of Minsk — including voting in local elections.

    ‘No agreements reached’

    After hours of talks, French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called for an April 30 deadline for a prisoner exchange in the Ukraine conflict, and for local elections to be held by the end of June in the Donbas region.

    FILE - A Pro-Russian activist waves a Donbas Republic flag over a crowd celebrating the capture of an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    FILE - A Pro-Russian activist waves a Donbas Republic flag over a crowd celebrating the capture of an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.

    "We emphasized the importance of the creation and adoption of an electoral code by the Ukrainian government and the parliament in order to hold the local elections. We hope the elections will take place before the first half of 2016," he said.

    But Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said in a tweet that "no agreements were reached."

    Klimkin said there needs to be more progress toward an endurable cease-fire, though, to create security on the ground for local elections. He said Russians were not ready to discuss anything in detail.

    Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, expressed his frustration after the meeting. 

    He said in a statement that "sometimes I also have the impression that Moscow and Kyiv forgot how serious the situation is and what pressure we are under to implement Minsk faster, because otherwise our efforts risk losing their legitimacy and their credibility."

    Suspicions regarding Russia

    The United States has urged Russia-supported separatists to start an immediate heavy weapons withdrawal in eastern Ukraine. Washington also called for Kyiv to adopt political reforms.

    "We recognize that political reform is important not just to the stability of their government but to the Ukrainian people, and we want to see that continue to progress," said State Department spokesman John Kirby on Thursday.

    While top U.S. officials continue to voice support for the western-brokered Minsk peace deal, critics say it does not change Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

    Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Adam Ereli said that what the West saw in Russia's behavior in eastern Ukraine and Crimea was "the gradual erosion of established rules of international behavior, the respect for international boundaries, the intervention in internal conflicts, [and] the arming of separatist movements by hostile powers."

    Ereli warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been utilizing all tools to undermine the western alliance.

    "Clearly he's got his eyes on Moldova, clearly he's got his eyes on Eastern Europe," said Ereli of Putin, adding that "it's all part of an integrated plan."

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    Comment Sorting
    by: beeQey
    March 10, 2016 7:58 AM
    "Ukraine will definitely not able to become a member of the EU in the next 20-to-25 years, and not of NATO either". Since this words are being said.... both EU and NATO should deliberately mind their support of Kiev's mafia in arms and finances, as one mafia got now simply no other way not to join another:

    by: Anonymous
    March 05, 2016 8:58 PM
    USA and EU need to get over Crimea. There was a referendum and the people voted to join Russia, a country they were part of anyway before some drunkard tried to offer Crimea for taking.
    NATO wants so bad to have control of Crimea and that is why they supported regime change. The Bear swatted their plan and short of a war with Russia USA/NATO better forget about the silly idea that Crimea will be part of Ukraine soon or for the next century.
    In Response

    by: Tyler Brown
    March 08, 2016 2:01 AM
    It's also important to note the context: The referendum was held following the overthrow of the legitimate, constitutional government of Ukraine in a violent putsch.
    In Response

    by: Ted from: United States
    March 06, 2016 11:52 AM
    What needs to happen is....!

    Russia needs to stop corrupting/or trying to corrupt websites that speak the "TRUTH" something Russia try's to distort at every turn!!

    What needs to happen is for Russia to leave all of Ukraine and also depart Crimea!!!

    by: Duncan Gill from: South Africa
    March 05, 2016 5:28 AM
    I believe that once the US through it's state department starts to treat the world and it's countries as equals then mankind will find peace and stability.As long as the US sees itself as above reproach and therefore able,in it's own way of thinking, to accuse the rest of the world of wrongdoing that itself is guilty of,then the world will know no peace or harmony.In short it's ok for us to act in a certain way but not fr Russia t act in a certain way! This policy was unable to work against Russia all through he cold war years and will not work now,time for the US to finally accept that there ca be no one nation that dictates to the rest of the world not now not ever!Russia will fight until the very end to not submit to US world dominance and they have the means to make sure that no one will will this battle or emerge the victor! The US intransigence can only lead the world to disaster it is getting boring old hat and frankly stupid to pursue this way of thinking.The cards have been dealt the hand lost time to concede the old ways are over an a new way has to be charted!
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 06, 2016 7:14 PM
    Silly man, the policy destroyed the USSR

    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 04, 2016 11:44 PM
    Why would any Russian separatist want to be a Ukrainian now, because they have no financial incentive whatsoever to join in a corrupt bankrupt Ukraine government now? .. The world should ask themselves, "would you want to be a Ukrainian"

    by: alabama from: Ukraine
    March 04, 2016 10:03 PM
    Almost none of observers talk about violation of people's civil rights in eastern Ukraine.It's all about discrimination.Government in Kiev ignores its citizens living on occupied territory.

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