Russia says Putin will meet with Hollande, Merkel at G20 summit to address Ukraine

MOSCOW, Aug. 23 (UPI) — Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss the continuing conflict in Crimea with the leaders of Germany and France at the upcoming G-20 summit in China, the Kremlin said Tuesday.

The Russian government said the controversial Moscow leader will hold the discussions with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel separate from the annual economic meet, scheduled to start Sept. 4 in Hangzhou.

Tensions have run high in the Crimean Peninsula since March 2014 when it was annexed by Russia following a landslide referendum that favored the action.

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The meet next month follows 18 months of added tension between Russia and Ukraine over the Minsk peace accord, a cease-fire agreement that has often been ignored.

“A concern has been voiced over instability along the contact line, a systematic violation of cease-fire,” the Kremlin said in a statement Tuesday.

Russian officials said Putin has discussed the matter with Hollande and Merkel in recent days by telephone. Merkel’s regime said the conversations were driven by a “shared concern about the recent high number of violations of the cease fire in [Ukraine’s] Donbas [region].”

“There was agreement that progress was urgently needed and that in particular a stabilization of the cease fire had to be achieved,” a German spokeswoman said.

Putin’s willingness to discuss Ukraine with the Europen leaders is seen as somewhat of a breakthrough, as the Russian leader said recently that any talks about the conflict would be pointless.

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Putin and Ukrainian officials have repeatedly traded accusations of violating the cease-fire, which was enacted in February 2015.

Hollande said Tuesday he hopes to invite one more party to the talks — Ukraine.

“The president [has] expressed hope that in the near future conditions will be right for holding a new meeting in the Normandy Four format (Germany, Russia, Ukraine, France) to discuss further steps in settling the crisis,” Elysee Palace said in a statement.



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