Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy held bilateral talks at a peace summit in Paris, signalling the first effort in a total of three years to push aside a bitter war, which has cost 13,000 lives, and revive a stalled peace process, Reuters reported on Monday, December 9th.
Among the summit’s main aims is to ensure the advancement of efforts exerted to restore peace to eastern Ukraine.
According to the Washington Post, the Normandy Format talks held earlier on Monday at Élysée Palace involved several meetings mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Ukraine’s Zelensky first met with Macron and then Merkel. After a meeting that included all four leaders, Putin and Zelensky held a one-on-one session, according to the Russian state-owned news agency Tass.
According to the Telegraph, Zelenskiy argued earlier that negotiations with Russia are the only way to resolve the conflict, hoping to reach a bilateral agreement with Putin on a ceasefire and an exchange of all prisoners, despite protests by Ukrainians to uphold the country’s interests first.
In the events leading up to the talks in Paris, Ukraine withdrew troops from various points along the front line. Both countries have blamed each other for violating the ceasefire, while Russia continues to deny any military involvement in the eastern Ukraine conflict.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Andriy Yermak said before the talks that they offered “a chance to start a dialogue that is needed to stop the war in the east of Ukraine. The war cannot be ended without negotiations.” He assured that Ukraine had done everything in its power to facilitate the talks, the Washington Post reported.