Europe and Russia are headed into another high-stakes bid at solving the conflict that has been raging in eastern Ukraine since early 2014.
A ministerial meeting between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany aimed at finding a rapid solution to the conflict will be held next week in Paris, Reuters reports.
The high-level talks will be the latest attempt among European leaders to restore peace in the region and will focus on the ceasefire agreed upon on February 12 in Minsk which has been ignored time and again by both parties.
The ceasefire has stemmed most large-scale fighting and frozen the sides’ battle-lines. But violence still continues. In the past week, 10 servicemen were killed, according to the Ukrainian military.
If no new ceasefire is agreed upon or no new measures implemented on top of the fraying Minsk ceasefire, the situation in the region might further deteriorate.
Ukraine fears full-blown invasion by Russia after a surge in violence struck the country in early June. A series of small, localised offensives led by Russia-backed Ukrainian separatists struck the east of the country and two soldiers were killed on June 16th as violence spread along the frontline.
Tensions might be running high in Paris. European Union governments announced on June 17th that the economic sanctions against Russia would be upheld until January 2016. The EU hopes that prolonged sanctions will put more pressure on the Kremlin to end conflict in Ukraine. But the sanctions have proven contentious within Europe, as certain countries, most notably Germany and the United Kingdom, have deep longstanding ties to the Russian economy.
The conflict started in early 2014 and efforts to put an end to the violence have so far proven futile. Germany and Russia’s foreign ministers, who spoke on the phone on June 17th, both stressed the importance of immediate cessation of hostilities in the region.
But with Putin announcing the expansion of Russia’s nuclear missile arsenal and the latest renewal of EU sanctions, a resolution to the crisis is likely still far in the future.
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