Russia and Ukraine failed to make any progress during talks on the conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region that were held in Berlin on Thursday under the Normandy format, which includes officials from France and Germany.
Russia and Ukraine are at odds over the application of the Minsk agreements that were signed in 2014 and 2015. The accords established a ceasefire in the Donbas, although there are still flare-ups in the conflict zone.
Under the Minsk agreements, Ukraine agreed to cede autonomy to the separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk republics, but that hasn’t happened. Ukrainian officials said that during Thursday’s talks, Russia said Kyiv should talk directly with the separatists.
“Russia insists that Ukraine conduct a direct dialogue with the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Ukraine rejected the proposal, and Kuleba said it was because it would change “the status of Russia will change from being a party to the conflict to the status of being a mediator in the conflict.”
Ukraine says Russia has troops in the Donbas, which Moscow denies. Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence after the 2014 US-backed coup in Kyiv and asked if they could join the Russian Federation, but Vladimir Putin said no.
Despite the lack in progress in Thursday’s talks, Russia and Ukraine agreed to hold more talks. The DW reported that they agreed to meet in March.