MOSCOW, August 29. /TASS/. Russian president Vladimir Putin during a telephone conversation with German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande has discussed the crisis situation in southeastern Ukraine and the progress in the implementation of the minsk agreements, taking into account the meetings of the contact group and its working subgroups that took place in Minsk on August 26 and 27, the Kremlin press service said on Saturday.
"Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande informed [Putin] about the results of their recent meeting with the president of Ukraine in Berlin. Vladimir Putin expressed concern about the continuing artillery bombardments of populated localities in Donbass by the Ukrainian military, the build-up of the Ukrainian Armed Forces along the line of demarcation," the press service said. "The three leaders emphasized the need to establish a direct dialogue between Kiev and representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk and of lifting the financial and economic blockade of Donbass," the report says.
Further steps in the Normandy format
Three leaders discussed further steps in the so-called Normandy format, including talks between foreign ministers and preparations for a new summit conference, the Kremlin press service said.
"In the course of the conversation the interlocutors had a detailed exchange of opinion on the issues related to the local elections, which the Ukrainian authorities have scheduled for this autumn," the press release said. "Also, they discussed the main aspects of further work in the framework of the Normandy format".
The implementation of the Minsk agreements
The situation in Ukraine and the implementation of the Minsk agreements topped the agenda of the talks, the German government said.
"The parties reaffirmed their readiness to seek the implementation of the Minsk agreements within the framework of the Normandy format together with Ukrainian President [Pyotr Poroshenko]," spokesman for the German government Steffen Seibert noted.
"They were unanimous in the opinion that the Minsk agreements remained the basis for improving the situation in Donbass," the statement said.
In addition, Putin, Hollande and Merkel "expressed their support for the vigorous efforts of the trilateral contract group" aimed at achieving a full-fledged ceasefire, Seibert noted, adding that the parties to the conversation pointed to the need to ensure the security of OSCE representatives.
Hollande and Merkel added that, if the local elections in the country were not held in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation, that would "pose a threat to the Minsk process.".
French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel support the demand for a full ceasefire in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine as of September 1, the two European leaders said on Saturday in a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Elysee Palace reported.
"They decisively supported the call for a complete ceasefire beginning with September 1 due to the resumption of classes in schools," a statement of the French president’s office said.
The French and German leaders noted that "the long-term observance of the ceasefire was a necessity" for alleviating the plight of civilians in the conflict zone. "To the same extent, this is an obligation envisaged by the Minsk agreements," the Elysee Palace said.