Russia, Ukraine agree to cease-fire by year-end at Paris talks

Russia, Ukraine agree to cease-fire by year-end at Paris talks

Also involved in today's meetings were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. Pro-Russia separatists still engage in armed skirmishes with pro-Ukraine forces, with the United Nations saying approximately 13,000 have been killed since the war began five years ago.

Meeting face to face at a four-way summit with the leaders of France and Germany in Paris, all sides also agreed to push for an "all for all" prisoner exchange by the end of the year.

At a joint press conference following the Normandy Four talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized that Minsk Agreements had clearly stated that Ukraine would start regaining control over the sections of Ukraine-Russia border in eastern Ukraine the day after local elections are held in the conflict-stricken areas of Donbas and that he saw no sense in "dismantling" Minsk agreements.

Whatever happens, the summit is the biggest test yet for Zelenskiy, a comic actor and political novice who won the presidency this year in a landslide - partly on promises to end the war. The US is an important military backer for Ukraine, which is hugely out-gunned by Russian Federation.

After a series of bilateral meetings at the Elysee Palace, Putin and Zelenskiy entered the room for a meeting of the four leaders making little eye contact with one another and with no smiles.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that Ukraine could get 25 percent cheaper gas if it can reach an agreement with Russia.

"We really spent a great deal of time during our one-on-one meeting on this [gas] issue. there's no agreement yet, but I'm sure that we have more chances to sign it under better conditions than before", Zelenskyy told reporters in Paris, adding that "already no one is talking about a contract for one year, it was removed from the discussion".


Some Ukrainians fear Zelensky will be out-maneuvered by Putin.

At a press conference after the talks in France's Élysée Palace, President Putin hailed the talks as an "important step" towards a de-escalation of the conflict. Several thousand protesters rallied in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday to urge Zelensky not to make any concessions to Russian Federation, and 100 opposition activists set up a tent camp outside his office with banners reading "No to capitulation!" Ukraine blames the Kremlin for separatist violence in east Ukraine.

Zelenskiy said before Monday's talks that he hopes they will help achieve a lasting ceasefire, and that he hopes to negotiate a quick deal to exchange all prisoners held by the warring parties.

Putin, too, is unwilling to be seen to bend to outside pressure over eastern Ukraine, and does not want to be seen to be leaving the Russian-speaking population of Donbass at the mercy of the government in Kiev.

The Kremlin insists that's not an option, and the separatists hope that Russia, France and Germany refuse Zelenskiy's requests.

The separatists seized control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions shortly after Russia's annexation of Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula. Macron has sought to reset relations with Putin after years of sanctions, but that warming has caused concern among the eastern European states of the EU. I said that we won't do it. "It would be good if we could get there at some point".

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