French, German ministers in Ukraine by Elaine Ganley

French and German foreign ministers visited Ukraine Wednesday in a bid to shore up a 2015 peace deal that has floundered amid continuing fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Jean-Marc Ayrault and Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko to discuss ways to secure a durable cease-fire and implement the political provisions of the Minsk agreement, which was brokered by France and Germany.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatist rebels and Ukrainian government troops has killed more than 9,500 people since it began in April 2014. The February 2015 deal helped end large-scale battles, but smaller clashes have continued to claim lives and a political settlement has stalled.

The Minsk deal envisaged that Ukraine gets back control of the rebellious regions’ border with Russia, widely seen as a conduit for weapons, after granting them broad autonomy and holding local elections there.

Ukraine has accused Russia of failing to withdraw its troops and weapons from the east, but Moscow has denied it has any presence there. The Kremlin, in turn, has argued that Ukraine has failed to meet its end of the Minsk deal by not providing autonomy for the eastern regions and call elections there.

 

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