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Normandy Four Ministers to discuss ways to resolve Ukrainian conflict in Munich

February 18, 2017, 8:19 UTC+3 MUNICH

The escalation of the situation in Donbass (east of Ukraine) in the early 2017 aroused serious concern of the leaders of the Normandy format

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MUNICH, February 18. /TASS/. The new meeting of Normandy Four top diplomats will be held on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, February 18.

Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakahrova spoke about possibility of such a meeting.

"The Normandy format meeting may be held on February 18," Zakharova told reporters.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier that Moscow is ready to boost efforts within the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine).

The escalation of the situation in Donbass (east of Ukraine) in the early 2017 aroused serious concern of the leaders of the Normandy format.

In a phone conversation that took place on February 7 Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced the need for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine. They also agreed to plan contacts of the foreign ministers and assistant of the leaders of the Normandy format in the near future.

Putin drew Merkel’s attention to the data of OSCE special monitoring mission, as well as the statements of official representatives of Kiev, testifying the attempts of Ukrainian security forces to change the situation on the contact line in their favor using military means. "There is a clear desire of the Kiev authorities to disrupt the implementation of the Minsk agreements, as well as the use of Normandy format as a cover for their destructive steps," the Kremlin said.

Paris and Berlin

Paris and Berlin also called for urgent resumption of contacts in the Normandy format.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel invited counterparts from Russia, France and Ukraine for a meeting in the Normandy format in Munich.

"The minister has invited his colleagues from France, Russia and Ukraine for a meeting in the Normandy format that will take place on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference," a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said that after a recent deterioration of situation near Avdeyevka, to the north of Donetsk, the parties will discuss "the return to ceasefire and the withdrawal of units and heavy weapons from the contact line."

"Besides, the ministers want to discuss steps on implementing the Minsk agreements," Gabriel said.

Official Paris also underscored the need to intensify efforts of the Normandy Quartet.

"Fierce fighting that broke out near Avdeevka recently, requires mobilization of partners of the Normandy format," spokesman of the French Foreign Ministry Romain Nadal said.

Moscow contacts with its partners of the Normandy format show that common understanding of lack of alternative to implementation of the Minsk agreements remains," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. But it is impossible to achieve this without a direct dialogue Kiev with Donetsk and Luhansk, as it is was set in UN Security Council Resolution 2202, Moscow believes, he said.

Kiev does not expect breakthrough

Meanwhile, the statements of the first persons of Ukraine show that Kiev continues to ignore the provisions of the Minsk Agreement and arbitrarily interprets its role in carrying out the tasks set out in the document.

Ahead of the meeting in the Normandy format, the press service of Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said that the Ukrainian party is "working with German and French partners in order to make the meeting productive and force Russia to finally start to fulfill Minsk agreements."

President Pyotr Poroshenko repeatedly said that it is impossible to proceed to the implementation of political reforms.

"Political items of Minsk agreements can be implemented only after the obvious progress in terms of security."

Kiev does not want to change its stance in the conflict and respectively, it does not expect any special results from the forthcoming talks.

"It's just the next round of negotiations in order to find point where we can agree, if possible," Vice Prime Minister Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze. However, she made it clear that one should not expect any breakthrough from the meeting.

Back on track of Minsk agreements

Moscow admits that amid the escalation of the armed conflict the elections in Donbass is still a long way to go.

"It is necessary to proceed from the fact that the main challenge now is to stop the armed confrontation, to bring the parties back on track the implementation of the Minsk agreements," Permanent Representative Russia to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich told TASS recently. However, Moscow keeps on saying that together with security issues political settlement should also take place.

Moscow stresses that it is the Ukrainian party which is responsible for maintaining the tension in the region and fails to remove prohibited weapons. According to Sergei Lavrov, Kiev deliberately aggravates the situation in Donbass in order not to carry out political provisions of the Minsk agreements. Poroshenko understands that his days as the president will be numbered, if he submits proposals on a special status of Donbass and elections in the region to the parliament.

The Normandy Four foreign ministers previously met in Minsk on November 29, 2016. According to Lavrov, the Minsk meeting ended with no breakthroughs and the sides failed to coordinate steps on the Donbass conflict resolution.

The 53rd Munich Security Conference opened in the German city on Munich on Friday.

The conference has brought together more than 500 politicians, businessmen, men of science and human rights activists from around the world. Russia is represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The conference was founded by German journalist Ewald von Kleist in 1962 as a meeting of representatives of defense ministries of NATO member states. Politicians and military representatives from Central and Eastern Europe have been attending the conference since 1999. Traditionally, this venue is used by politicians to organize informal and personal meetings to discuss new security initiatives.

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