Face-to-face talks between the leaders of Russian Federation and Ukraine have yielded modest progress with tentative agreements on prisoner exchanges and a total ceasefire, but no political breakthrough to the five-year old conflict in south-east Ukraine.
According to Vadym Prystayko, the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the main expectation from the meeting of the four leaders of the states was that the Russian troops would leave the occupied areas of Ukraine's Donbas. "We have asked our ministers in the coming four months to work on this. with a view to organising local elections in four months", he said, acknowledging there remained differences on the calendar".
Key to the Minsk accords succeeding are elections in the disputed eastern Donbass region of Ukraine, diplomats say. A member of the Russian delegation said officials had been instructed to hammer out details.
Russia-Ukraine long-term gas transit contract which supplies with gas many countries of the European Union ends on 31 December, while Russia is stepping up two big pipeline projects circumventing Ukraine: Nord Stream 2, bringing gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea, and Turkish Stream, which will ship under the Black Sea.More news: North Korea opens mountain spa, ski resort in tourism push
In his statement, Putin insisted on enshrining in the Ukrainian constitution the "special status" of Donbas on a permanent basis.
Yelchenko said the main goal of the resolution is to urge the withdrawal of Russian forces from Crimea and ensure that Russia halts "harassment of commercial vessels and restrictions to global shipping in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov". Putin and Zelenskiy also held a separate one-on-one meeting.
The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France are holding a series of meetings at the Elysee Palace to try to revive a 2015 peace deal that's gone largely ignored, as Ukrainian soldiers and Russia-backed separatists continue to exchange fire across World War I-style trenches along the front line slicing through eastern Ukraine.
There has been scant sign of a peaceful solution to the crisis despite a 2015 ceasefire deal in Minsk. The Kremlin wants to maintain as much influence over Kyiv as it can, using the land held by the separatists it supports in the Donbas as a lever.More news: Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson has died
The separatists seized control of Ukraine's Donetsk and Lugansk regions shortly after Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.
Additionally, leaders of the four countries agreed to meet in the same format "within four months" to discuss "political and security conditions" concerning the conduct of local elections in eastern Ukraine. 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. He said he and Putin had disagreed on several issues. I think it would be appropriate to be diplomatic as we've just started talking. Opposition politicians rejected "peace at the cost of capitulation" and expressed grave misgivings about Putin's willingness to deal honestly. "All this gives us the grounds to suppose that the process is developing in the right direction", he said.
Sticking to his cool tone, when he ended his remarks to journalists in Paris, Putin thanked Merkel and Macron warmly but offered no pleasantries to Zelenskiy.More news: 'Parasite' Takes Earns Top Awards from L.A. Film Critics Association