EU Official: Time to Solve Ukraine Crisis

EU Official: Time to Solve Ukraine Crisis
EU Official: Time to Solve Ukraine Crisis

Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine have agreed that the time has come to reach a solution on the Ukrainian crisis, European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said Monday.

“I have a positive sense and hope that on Wednesday there will be a breakthrough. I think that the signals from all sides are promising and think all the partners confess that it is time to find a solution,” Hahn said before a meeting of heads of European Union foreign ministries.

The leaders of Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine will convene on Wednesday in Minsk to discuss the crisis in Ukraine, Sputnik reported.

The latest ministerial-level meeting in the Normandy format and Minsk format talks involving the representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, which were held in January, failed to yield results.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Kiev must stop its military operation in east Ukraine and cease exerting economic pressure on rebel-held regions, warning that it was on a “dead-end track fraught with ... catastrophe.”

In an interview ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, Putin said, “The most important condition for the stabilization of the situation is immediate cease-fire and ending of the so-called ‘anti-terrorist’, but in fact punitive, operation in the south-east of Ukraine.”

  Clashes Continue

Nine Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 26 wounded in fighting with Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s between Sunday and Monday afternoon, a Kiev military spokesman said on Monday.

The spokesman, Vyacheslav Seleznyov, said government forces had come under attack from the rebels on about 100 separate occasions. Violence has intensified in the past month as rebels push a new offensive.

Ukraine’s military say fighting has been particularly intense around the town of Debaltseve, a major rail and road junction northeast of the city of Donetsk. Regional police said seven civilians had been killed by shelling in Debaltseve and another frontline town of Avdiivka on Sunday.