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BERLIN, August 17, /ITAR-TASS/. A meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France kicked off in Berlin on Sunday.
Sergey Lavrov, Pavel Klimkin, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Laurent Fabius arrived at Villa Borsig and started the program with a stroll around the park, expected to be followed by an official supper and talks.
The ministers are to discuss the situation around the Russian humanitarian convoy for southeastern Ukrainian residents and ways to resolve the Ukrainian crisis. The exact agenda will become clear when the consultations start.
Villa Borsig earlier belonged to the family of well-known German entrepreneur Ernst von Borsig and now it hosts the German Foreign Ministry’s residence.
The previous meeting of the four countries’ top diplomats was held in Berlin on July 2. After their talks, the four foreign ministers adopted a statement, which reconfirmed their commitment to peace and stability in Ukraine and called for a truce that would be observed by both parties to the Ukrainian conflict.
Earlier, Lavrov told Itar-Tass that Russia “welcomes any steps aimed at dialogue rather than at continuation of armed clashes” and added that it is very important to stick to agreements reached at the international level.
The Russian foreign minister in particular recalled the statement signed on April 17 by the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in the presence of the US secretary of state and the EU’s foreign policy chief.
“The statement is designed to resolve three rather urgent tasks. The first one is to immediately stop the use of force. The second one is to immediately resolve humanitarian problems. Third is to immediately start a constitutional reform in a format involving all
Ukrainian regions which is open to public opinion,” he said.
Lavrov said none of the three demands signed by the Ukrainian side has been fulfilled.
Kiev’s military operation designed to regain control over the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which on May 11 proclaimed their independence at local referendums, kicked off in mid-April and has involved armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation.
It has claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians, brought destruction to many buildings and forced tens of thousands of people to flee Ukraine’s southeast.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry sent a 262-truck convoy with relief supplies for residents of the war-torn southeast of Ukraine on August 12. The cargo contains some 2,000 metric tons of humanitarian aid, including food (grain, sugar, baby food), medications, sleeping bags and portable power generators.
The first 16 white Kamaz trucks with the aid have already arrived at the Donetsk border-crossing point in Russia and are at a local motor depot.
Prior to the start of talks with Lavrov, Klimkin and Fabius, Steinmeier said Sunday that “we are still far from a political solution” to the Ukrainian crisis and noted that “the humanitarian convoy is still at the Russian side of the border,” adding that the humanitarian cargoes should be “delivered to the Donetsk and Lugansk regions that urgently need them.”
Development of Ukrainian crisis
Violent anti-government protests in Ukraine, which started in November 2013 when then-President Viktor Yanukovich suspended the signing of an association agreement with the European Union to study the deal more thoroughly, resulted in a coup in February 2014.
Crimea seceded from Ukraine and reunified with Russia in mid-March 2014 after a referendum. Crimea’s example apparently inspired residents of Ukraine’s southeastern regions who did not recognize the coup-imposed authorities either, formed militias and started fighting for their rights.
Western-leaning billionaire businessman and politician Petro Poroshenko won the May 25 early presidential election in Ukraine set by the provisional Kiev authorities. He was sworn in and took office June 7. Poroshenko signed the association deal with the EU on June 27, on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels.
Poroshenko, dubbed “the chocolate king” because his structures control Ukraine’s Roshen confectionery manufacturer, had funded anti-government protests that led to February's coup.
The bloody armed standoff between troops loyal to Kiev and southeastern militias continues under the new Ukrainian president.