16:32 May. 11, 2016
Minsk agreement proves unsuccessful as war in the eastern Ukraine continues
Germany's top envoy said talks to hold elections in rebel-held territories in eastern Ukraine have ground to a halt, calling stalled negotiations over the conflict "an affront" to the peace process.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier struck a pessimistic tone Wednesday in Berlin as he hosted his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Ukraine's Pavlo Klimkin and France's Jean-March Ayrault. While a fragile cease-fire after renewed violence has held this month between Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian troops, truce violations and political upheaval in Kiev are harming efforts to end the fighting, he said.
"It can't stay this way, because every fruitless discussion is an affront to the legitimacy of the" peace process, Steinmeier told reporters before Wednesday's meeting. "But above all it involves the danger that the conflict will escalate again."
Russian President Vladimir Putin joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Poroshenko in the Belarusian capital of Minsk in February 2015 to hammer out an accord to halt the violence in eastern Ukraine.
While the deal ended the worst of the fighting, in which more than 9,000 people were killed, sticking points in implementing the accord remain over the status of the rebel-held lands, prisoner swaps, an amnesty for combatants and returning control of Ukraine's border with Russia.