After a three year gap, leaders from France, Germany, Ukraine, and Russia have gathered in Paris to resume high level negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict in the Donbas. And while the conflict was not ended with a single meeting, all four sides have come to a consensus on at least three core points.
While questions about local elections in the Donbas and control of the Russian border remain open, the sides did agree to at least one diplomatic step forward – an ‘all-for-all’ prisoner exchange to be conducted by the end of the year, which Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy named as his biggest accomplishment of the summit. The leaders also agreed on the implementation of a permanent ceasefire by the end of the year – though ceasefires have been implemented previously, without lasting success.
The second point was a re-affirmation of commitment to the Minsk Agreements, which Russian president Vladimir Putin said had “no alternative.” The Minsk agreements, in Russia’s view, call for resumption of Ukrainian control of the border only following local elections in the occupied territories – a sequence of events that Zelenskyy has refused. However, they did agree on incorporating the ‘Steinmeier formula’ into Ukrainian legislation.
And finally, the last conclusion reached by the Normandy summit was to hold another summit in four months, though Zelenskyy stated that this meeting will be held without preconditions. Zelenskyy also added that progress on talks in drafting a new gas transit contract between Ukraine and Russia are now ‘unblocked.’