Ukraine crisis: ‘Some progress made’ at talks in Berlin

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said after a meeting of the foreign ministers of Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France – Sergei Lavrov, Pavlo Klimkin and Laurent Fabius – that the sides achieved ‘some progress’ after a difficult conversation on Sunday. The top officials were discussing the ways of resolving the situation in eastern Ukraine for nearly five hours.

The Foreign Ministers are expected to report back to their leaders and hold consultations with the governments before continuation of the talks, possibly on Tuesday. ‘Our aim is make a contribution to cease-fire in Ukraine. There shouldn’t be other victims,’ Me Steinmeier said. ‘It was a difficult discussion but I believe and I hope that we made progress on some points,’ he added.

He said the ministers focused on how to bring about a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, where government forces are battling pro-Russian separatists, and how to improve border controls along the Russian-Ukrainian border.

‘The situation in Ukraine remains difficult. The news from today shows that we are far from an end to the conflict. People are still dying. We have no ceasefire. We are far away from a political solution,’ Mr Steinmeier said before the meeting.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday a ‘certain progress’ was achieved during the talks between Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine on ways to end the military conflict in eastern Ukraine. The ministry said in a statement all parties agreed to continue talks in the same format to prepare ‘concrete proposals’ for the heads of government in Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov left the venue of talks without talking to the press. At the same time, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin made key remarks in social networks.

It is impossible to compromise on issues in which the government will have to cross its ‘red line’, and Ukraine didn’t cross it, Pavlo Klimkin said on Twitter, referring to the latest talks. He noted that the five-hour talk had been ‘difficult’ but added one should hold such five-hour talks again and again to ‘get the matter off the ground’. Mr Klimkin also thanked his colleagues Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Laurent Fabius for support.

(upd) Russia on Monday said all objections to it sending a humanitarian convoy to Ukraine had been resolved but said no progress had been made in Berlin talks toward a ceasefire between government and rebel forces in the east of the country, Reuters reports.

Following the talks between Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine on Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said ‘finally, all questions have been resolved … related to the Russian initiative to send 300 trucks with humanitarian aid.’

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