The French president and the German chancellor are set to visit Moscow on Friday after a trip to Kiev, in order to find a peaceful solution to the escalating violence in Ukraine, the Kremlin has confirmed.
“I can confirm that indeed tomorrow [Friday] Putin, Merkel and Hollande will have talks. The leaders of the three states will discuss what specifically the countries can do to contribute to speedy end of the civil war in the southeast of Ukraine, which has escalated in recent days and resulted in many casualties,”Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskovsaid.
The leaders of Germany and France will meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev on Thursday and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday, according to Reuters.
“Together with Angela Merkel we have decided to take a new initiative,” Hollande told a news conference. “We will make a new proposal to solve the conflict which will be based on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”
“Then, on Friday, we will discuss the initiative with the Russian president in Moscow, since we are short of time,”Hollande said.
“In view of the escalating violence in recent days, the chancellor and President Hollande are intensifying their efforts, which have been going on for months, for a peaceful settlement to the conflict in eastern Ukraine,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.
According to Hollande, the joint initiative of France and Germany is aimed at producing a text “acceptable to all,” as “diplomacy can’t go on forever.” The French president also said that France is not in favor of Ukraine joining NATO.
US Secretary of State John Kerry also arrived in Kiev on Thursday for a meeting with Petro Poroshenko. It follows Washington’s consideration of supplying Ukrainian army with weapons.
Hollande recently had a brief and unplanned visit to Moscow in the course of his trip to Kazakhstan. On December 6, he held talks with Russian President Putin at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport.
The situation in eastern Ukraine escalated in January, with shooting and shelling in the Donetsk area – the main stronghold of the anti-Kiev forces – resumed on a daily basis, claiming lives of civilians.
Last Saturday, peace talks in Minsk ended with no breakthrough and resulted in a blame game between Kiev officials and the rebels.