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KIEV, September 13. /ITAR-TASS/. Talks to settle the situation in Donbass (Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine) need to be held in the Geneva format - with involvement of representatives of the United States, the European Union and Russia, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said Saturday at an annual meeting of the Yalta European Strategy.
Yatsenyuk said the announcement of a ceasefire regime at a meeting in Belarusian capital Minsk in early September was “the first step to lay the road to a future peace solution.”
“The idea to hold bilateral talks with the Russian Federation is not the best one. I am for the Geneva format, with involvement of the US and the EU. We are not so strong as to hold talks on a bilateral basis,” he said.
This year, the Yalta European Strategy is held in Kiev because Crimea, a former Ukrainian region where the event was held earlier, joined Russia in March.
Fierce clashes between troops loyal to Kiev and local militias in the southeastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR), have killed hundreds of civilians, brought massive destruction and forced hundreds of thousands to flee Ukraine’s southeast.
The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire during OSCE-mediated talks in Minsk on September 5. The long hoped-for ceasefire took effect the same day, but the West keeps adopting sanctions against Russia and claiming that Moscow is involved in hostilities in Ukraine, which Russia has repeatedly denied.
Violent anti-government protests, which started in Ukraine in November 2013 when the country’s then-president suspended the signing of an association agreement with the EU to study the deal more thoroughly, resulted in a coup in February 2014. Crimea refused to recognize the coup-imposed provisional authorities and seceded from Ukraine to reunify with Russia in mid-March 2014 after some 60 years as part of Ukraine.