Merkel Disappointed with Lack of Contact Group Talks with Militia in Ukraine
BERLIN, July 16 (RIA Novosti) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel is disappointed that the contact group on Ukraine has not managed to hold talks with independence supporters, German Government Spokesman Steffen Seibert said Wednesday following Merkel's telephone conversation with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko a day earlier.
'The conversation's participants shared their disappointment with the fact that despite all the efforts of the contact group consisting of Russian, Ukrainian and OSCE representatives, talks with separatists have not taken place. [Poroshenko and Merkel] also share the evaluation of the contact group, according to which separatists seem to lack the will for [the talks],' Seibert said.
The contact group was planning a video-conference with armed militia leaders in east Ukraine on Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said earlier.
On Sunday, Russia's President Vladimir Putin held talks with Merkel entirely dedicated to the Ukrainian crisis, with both leaders emphasizing the need to resume the work of the contact group and calling for a ceasefire and prisoner exchange.
Two rounds of trilateral talks between the representatives of the self-proclaimed people's republics of Donetsk and Luhansk and Kiev officials were held in June, when a contact group, including Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, two OSCE officials and former Ukrainian President Mikhail Kuchma met to discuss the possible de-escalation of the conflict in Donbass.
Since mid-April, Kiev authorities have been conducting a special military operation in eastern Ukraine to suppress the independence movement. More than 450 civilians have died over the past few months as a result of the conflict.
Moscow has repeatedly called on Kiev to immediately put a stop the violence and resolve the conflict through peaceful dialogue.
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