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Normandy Four leaders reach progress in implementing Minsk-2 accords, expert says

The Normandy Four leaders held their summit in Paris on Monday for the first time after a three-year break

MOSCOW, December 10. /TASS/. The summit of the Normandy Four (Russia, France, Germany, Ukraine) leaders in Paris on Monday showed some positive results while its participants managed to reach progress in settling the intra-Ukrainian crisis, Member of the Russian President’s Council for Inter-Ethnic Relations Bogdan Bezpalko told TASS on Tuesday.

"A positive result of the Normandy Four summit is that the presidents of Russia and Ukraine held a bilateral meeting and that the summit confirmed the baseline agreement to the Minsk accords, which obliges Kiev to fulfil many measures as part of settling the conflict in Donbass," the expert pointed out.

"It can be said that progress has been reached, although limited," he said.

The final document confirms that Russia has managed "to achieve certain progress within the framework of these preliminary terms [the exchange of prisoners-of-war under the ‘all-for-all’ formula until the end of the year and the disengagement of forces]," the political scientist said.

"These are all technical details that do not violate the basis of the Minsk accords concluded in 2015 and do not impose any additional commitments on Moscow," Bezpalko said.

However, the expert said he was somehow skeptical that "the Ukrainian side would fulfil the Minsk accords on the whole."

Touching upon the issue of Russian natural gas transit to Europe via Ukraine, which was not discussed at the Normandy Four summit but was raised at a bilateral meeting between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky, the expert said that "apparently, the sides failed to reach agreement on the gas transit."

Paris summit results

For the first time after a three-year break, the Normandy Four leaders held their summit in Paris on Monday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian, Ukrainian and French Presidents Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Zelensky and Emmanuel Macron met in the Elysee Palace to discuss the issues of settling the intra-Ukrainian conflict in Donbass.

The first personal meeting of the Russian and Ukrainian leaders took place during the summit. Before that, they communicated only over the phone. At a final press conference, the French president noted this fact as one of the main positive results of the summit.

During the negotiations that lasted a total of over seven hours, the sides drafted a final document, in which they stated some specific accords. The decision to swap prisoners-of-war in Donbass under the formula of "all identified for all identified" already by the New Year was one of the summit’s expected results.

The summit’s participants also undertook to ensure a complete and all-embracing ceasefire before the end of 2019 and also agreed to support an accord within the framework of the Contact Group on the political settlement in eastern Ukraine on three additional sections of disengaging forces and weapons in the conflict area by the end of March 2020.

The main result, however, was, perhaps, an agreement to continue the discussion at the highest level in the Normandy format already in four months and make steps within this time towards the political settlement of the conflict in Donbass.