German Chancellor Angela Merkel will host a meeting with the Russian, Ukrainian and French presidents Wednesday in Berlin in efforts to reactivate the stalled Minsk peace agreements aimed at reaching a political settlement in eastern Ukraine.
Amid escalating tensions between the West and Russia, Merkel arranged the talks to "assess the implementation of the Minsk (peace) agreements since the last meeting and discuss further steps,'' Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said Tuesday.
The four leaders have held sporadic meetings to discuss the Minsk accords, the last of them in Paris on October 2, 2015.
The 2015 Minsk deal, mediated by France and Germany, has helped reduce the intensity of battles between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine but clashes have continued, and efforts to reach a political settlement have stalled.
"From the cease-fire, which is not really one, to the stalled political process, a lot really is not satisfactory at all... but Minsk is the only thing we have, the only thing everyone can call on, and that sets out a peaceful and political road for everyone,'' Seibert said, downplaying chances of a breakthrough.
Wednesday’s visit will be Putin's first to Berlin since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict in 2014 and comes one day before the 28 leaders of the European Union are due to convene to discuss relations with Russia, including sanctions related to its involvement in Ukraine, which are due for renewal at the end of the year.
The EU summit in Brussels is also expected to discuss Russia's role in Syria, which sparked frictions between Russia and France last week, after which Putin canceled a visit to Paris.