MOSCOW, February 6. /TASS/. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are heading for Moscow to discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin a new peace initiative to end renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine.
The news about the upcoming meetings on Thursday-Friday in Merkel-Hollande-(Ukrainian President) Poroshenko format in Kiev and in Putin-Merkel-Hollande format in Moscow came only on February 5. But the situation in Ukraine is so acute with truce collapsing in eastern Ukraine that it is impossible to postpone a next attempt to settle the crisis.
Putin has revised his plans for the sake of the Friday meeting.
"We are ready for a constructive conversation aiming to achieve certain agreements which will help to stabilize the situation and to establish direct contacts between official representatives of Kiev and Donbass," the presidential aide said adding these agreements "should facilitate the more effective work of the Contact Group and assist in restoring economic ties between the Ukrainian government and the country's southeast."
He said talks were scheduled for about 5 pm Moscow time, with consultations of leaders’ representatives preceding them.
Ushakov said the meeting was prompted by a worsening situation in Ukraine. "But also the numerous initiatives the Russian president voiced in phone conversations with Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko in recent weeks have been good incentives [to the process]," Ushakov said, referring in particular to Putin’s letter to Poroshenko on January 15, in which he suggested an immediate pullback of heavy artillery.
On Thursday, Merkel and Hollande visited Kiev for talks with the Ukrainian president. The French president said they were taking to Kiev certain initiatives, but no details are available as of yet. However, sources close to the administration of the Ukrainian leader said European leaders were proposing to "freeze" the conflict in the southeast of Ukraine on the Transdniestria (Moldova’s breakaway region) scheme.
The Kremlin does not know details of the plan but hopes it will be constructive.
According Ukrainian foreign minister spokesman Yevgeny Perebeinos, the new peace plan of Merkel and Hollande is basing on the Minsk agreements and envisages "a certain level of decentralization for Donbass (the Donetsk and Lugansk regions)".
The press service of the Ukrainian president quoted Poroshenko late on Thursday as saying talks with the German and French leaders "give hope there will be a result on ceasefire".
US Secretary of State John Kerry also visited Kiev on Thursday, planning no visit to Moscow however. "The American side has several time brought up the issue of a visit to Russia, and Moscow supported this, but so far it has failed to take place for different considerations," Ushakov said.
It has already been announced that Merkel will visit the US on Monday. Kerry said that only after that President Obama would voice his stance on military assistance to Ukraine.