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Kiev confirms Normandy Four top diplomats to hold video conference on April 30

Ukraine's foreign minister clarified that Kiev sees only one positive result of the group's previous meeting in Paris in December, which is detainee exchange

KIEV, April 28. /TASS/. A meeting of the Normandy Four (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) foreign ministers will take place on Thursday via a video conference, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said Tuesday.

"The video conference will be held this Thursday, on April 30," he told a briefing, adding that "all [Normandy Four] foreign ministers will be there." Kuleba believes that it is vital for the ministers to talk as the Paris summit decisions are stumbling. "We need to give their implementation a new impetus to unlock the way to the next summit in Berlin where new agreements will need to be reached and move towards the end of war and de-occupation of territories," he explained, adding that the key aim of the conversation between the top diplomats is to assess the previously reached agreements.

Kuleba clarified that the Ukrainian side only notes one positive result of the previous meeting — detainee swaps. "We should try to establish reasons why the other areas are stagnating <…>, draft at least outlines of solutions to the existing problems and give an impetus to the Trilateral Contact Group so that it can directly deal with detailed solutions and their implementations," the minister believes.

According to Kuleba, Kiev is interested in holding regular meetings of the Normandy Four foreign ministers as well as "restarting the integrated mechanism of the Normandy Four with all its elements."

On April 23, Spokesperson for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Yekaterina Zelenko announced that the Normandy Four foreign ministers will hold talks via a video conference. Earlier, when announcing this meeting, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas revealed that the sides had agreed to boost the conflict settlement by holding the talks. During the phone call between Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and French President Emmanuel Macron on April 27, the leaders reassured that Donbass talks must move forward. Meanwhile, the four leader level talks are not taking place now.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that he predicted "a rather important talk at the level of foreign ministers" but is not expecting "any results" apart from the Ukrainian side speaking about the need to hold the Berlin summit as soon as possible. At the same time, Lavrov noted that there is no point in holding a Normandy Four summit because of the position of Kiev authorities who are blocking implementation of decisions of the latest Normandy Four leaders' meeting.

A Normandy Four summit was held in Paris on December 9, for the first time after a three-year break. Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Emmanuel Macron of France, Vladimir Zelensky of Ukraine and German Chancellor Angela Merkel gathered in the Elysee Palace to discuss ways of settling the conflict in Donbass. One of the outcomes was a decision for the parties to the conflict to swap detainees on the ‘all-for-all’ basis before the end of the year. The summit participants committed to ensure a full and comprehensive ceasefire until the end of 2019 as well as agreed to support the agreement reached by the Contact Group on settlement in eastern Ukraine on three additional areas for disengagement of forces and hardware in the conflict zone by the end of March 2020.

The first talks of the Normandy Four group took place in France in June 2014 amid commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the landing of allied troops in Normandy. Then the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany met for the first time to find a solution to the conflict in the southeastern Ukrainian region of Donbass. Since then, the Normandy Four has held a series of phone talks and summit meetings, along with meetings of foreign ministers and other officials.