16:46 Sep. 15, 2016
Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Jean-Marc Ayrault together with their Ukrainian colleague Pavlo Klimkin are on a trip to Slovyansk and Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine
Three foreign ministers - of France, Germany, and Ukraine - have travelled easterly to evaluate the freshly installed ceasefire for themselves. Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Jean-Marc Ayrault have just returned from Moscow, where they discussed the ways of implementation of the constantly violated Minsk agreements. Upon arriving in Kyiv, ministers announced the new ceasefire agreement had been reached in Moscow.
"The ceasefire gives us a chance to work on the other things that are so important...We've had six months of stagnation and that has worsened the security situation," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters on Thursday.
Yet, later Kremlin denied it. Russia denies it promised Germany to ensure a ceasefire, as it does not think of itself as a part of the conflict. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Russia hoped that the foreign ministers' visit would encourage Ukraine to fulfill its Minsk obligations. Meanwhile, Ukraine reports on new arrivals of Russian weapons and munitions to Donbas. The previous ceasefire, established just several days ago, was violated by separatist forces several hundred times.
In Kramatorsk, the diplomats were briefed on the situation by OSCE international monitors. They are one of the highest-level delegations to travel close to the 487-km (303-mile)front line.
France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault stressed the need for the adoption of a law on local elections in Donbas and insisted it is important to grant special status to the region. Ukraine reminds - the elections are impossible unless Kyiv fully controls the state border and security level would become satisfactory. European diplomats reiterated that they are Ukraine's friends, that is why they do not accept Russian occupation of Crimea. It means they consider Duma elections, scheduled on this Sunday, illegal.