Russia hopes that issues of the disengagement of forces along the entire contact line in Donbass will be in focus of possible meetings in the Normandy format involving Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.
“We keep on telling our partners that it is necessary to ensure the implementation of the decisions taken within the Normandy format so that its authority continue to stand high. One of such decisions is disengagement of forces, beginning from the three pilot areas,” he said, adding that the disengagement efforts near the settlement of Stanitsa Luganskaya could be seen as “positive developments.”
“Now, it is necessary to organize another round of disengagement of forces and troops in two other areas appointed by the Normandy format, i.e. near the settlements of Petrovskoye and Zolotoye,” Lavrov noted. “I hope disengagement of forces will be conducted in all the three areas and the Normandy format will be able to look at expanding this practice along the entire contact line. It would be very important.”
The Russian top diplomat stressed that it would be right to plan further meeting in the Normandy format only after Kiev’s new government clarified its position on the Minsk agreements. “The government is yet to be formed there. Before speaking about contacts in the Normandy format in general, before planning such contacts, it would be desirable to understand how [Ukraine’s] new government, when formed, formulates its position on the Minsk agreements,” he said, adding he hoped Kiev would ultimately continue the policy towards the implementation of these accords.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier that Germany and France were looking at organizing a Normandy-format summit in Paris in the near future.
Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov confirmed that such a summit was being looked at but noted that a lot of “homework” should be done before that.
Talks in the Normandy format over Ukraine began to be held in June 2014. During special ceremonies on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the allied landings in Normandy during World War II the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany for the first time discussed ways of settling the conflict in Donbass. A number of telephone conversations and summit meetings, as well as contacts between foreign ministers have been held since.