“Normandy FMs” Fail to Agree on UN Mission to Ukraine

Foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine at a meeting in Berlin on Tuesday failed to agree on how a mission of the “blue helmets” in war-torn Ukraine Donbas should look like. 

After a break that lasted more than 16 months, Berlin again hosted talks of the foreign ministers in the so-called Normandy format – Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine.

The purpose of such meetings is to create conditions for the implementation of the Minsk agreements on the settlement of the conflict in the east of Ukraine.

The central topic of this round was for the first time the idea to deploy in the east of Ukraine a UN peacekeeping mission. An agreement on this issue is considered a prerequisite for the next meeting in the “Normandy format” at the top level.

Before the meeting, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas recalled that in principle the idea of “blue helmets” is supported by Moscow and Kyiv. “But there’s a lot of difference on this,” said Maas. “Ukraine and Russia’s interests and views lie far apart in many areas.” Negotiations dragged on

After the talks, Maas called the talks “very detailed and open, but also constructive dialogue.” As a result, he said, a number of agreements were reached, in particular, the promise of all parties to strictly observe the cease-fire regime, the readiness to withdraw heavy weapons from the contact line and begin demining the territory. 

As for the main topic of the meeting – the parameters of the desired mission of UN peacekeepers in the conflict zone, the negotiators agreed only to continue negotiations on this topic at the level of high officials of foreign ministries.

Diplomats will focus on the possible format of the UN mission. “In principle, both sides agree with the UN mission,” the German minister said, “However, the ideas of [Russia and Ukraine] of what it will be like, its mandate and area of responsibility, digger drammatically. 

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin was more sharp on this topic. “The views of Moscow and Kiev on the “blue helmets” mission to Donbas lie worlds apart.

All previous “Normandy” agreements on ceasefire, the removal of heavy weapons, and clearance of the territory from landmines were largely violated shortly after foreign ministers’ powwows.




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