2019.12.10 16:00

Normandy Four summit ‘first step in positive direction’, Lithuanian president says

BNS 2019.12.10 16:00

Monday's Normandy Four summit on peace in Ukraine was a first step in a positive direction, despite persistent disagreements between Moscow and Kyiv, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda says.

The Ukrainian, Russian, French and German leaders “failed to reach consensus on many issues” in Paris, but the talks were “the first step in a positive direction”, he told reporters in Utena, eastern Lithuania.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky held their first face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of the four-way summit in Paris.

“I am glad that the two sides finally sat down at the negotiating table, and I hope that much can be done if these discussions continue and international support for Mr. Zelensky is sufficient,” Nausėda said.

Some measures to de-escalate the war in Ukraine were agreed upon in Paris, but no major breakthrough was achieved on ending the five-year conflict.

The four leaders said in a joint statement that they agreed on a full ceasefire and a withdrawal of forces from the conflict zones in Eastern Ukraine by March 2020.

However, the Ukrainian and Russian presidents failed to agree on which should come first: the restoration of Kyiv's control over its borders in the eastern part of the country or local elections in Donbass.

“I think Ukraine's borders-prior-to-elections demand is certainly much more reasonable in every sense," Nausėda said.

The next Normandy Format summit is to be held in four months.

The UN estimates that the armed conflict between the Kyiv government and the Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014.

Separatists took control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions shortly after Russia had annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.