Visiting Ukraine: Germany’s Maas hopes to speed up peace process

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, on Monday arrived Ukraine for talks with the hope of accelerating a fragile peace process in the country’s troubled east.

“We want to move forward faster in the Minsk process. That is why I’m in Kiev.

“The ceasefire that has lasted for over four weeks is the longest since 2014 and that is a hopeful sign. We want to build on that,” Maas said.

Maas will meet his Ukrainian counterpart Dymtro Kuleba, President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

There have been more than 20 attempted ceasefires since the conflict erupted in early 2014 following Kiev’s ouster of the country’s pro-Russian President amid a political pivot away from Russia and toward the EU.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), recorded more than 100 violations within days of the latest ceasefire attempt starting in July.

However, France, Germany saw the most recent talks between Russia and Ukraine in December, ahead of the fifth anniversary of the 2015 signing of the Minsk peace agreement.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine’s new leadership, in power since 2019, dismissed the agreement’s demand to grant more autonomy to the Eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, claiming the previous government agreed to it under duress.

Russia, which represents the rebels at international peace talks, denies allegations of direct involvement in the conflict.

The UN estimated that about 13,000 people had so far died in the crisis.

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