Mediating efforts to end the months-long, pro-Russian separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine have failed once again. Ukrainian, Russian, German and French leaders gathered in Berlin on Monday to review the volatile cease-fire agreement. However, the Berlin conference of foreign ministers of the so-called "Normandy format" countries failed to achieve a breakthrough for the crisis in Ukraine. "The differences in opinion made it clear how difficult it is to make progress towards a political solution or a summit in Astana, from which much is expected and which must be prepared," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters.
The prevailing efforts of Western leaders have led to no significant improvement so far. Previous meetings indicate that the Russian position is still too extreme to reconcile, and therefore the conflicting interest of Russia over the Ukrainian crisis prevents a sustainable settlement between Kiev and eastern Ukrainian separatists.
Amid a push for peace in eastern Ukraine, the United Nations evaluated the situation in eastern Ukraine while talking about three possible scenarios for the Ukraine crisis – "frozen conflict, escalation of armed actions with possible interference of external forces or the achievement of peace in the country." Taking inconclusive peace talks into account, peace appears to still be a long way off for Ukraine.
The Moscow-influenced separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine has not been settled despite attempts to put an end to the violent clashes between the Ukrainian government forces and the Russian-backed separatists. However, no peaceful and permanent resolution has been agreed upon so far. Truce talks have so far been unable to produce a breakthrough over issues relating to the settlement of the crisis in Ukraine. The cease-fire that was agreed in the Minsk Protocol of Sept. 5 and the Minsk Memorandum of Sept. 19 has been reportedly violated on a frequent basis. The constant battles in eastern Ukraine serve to imperil the peace deal that was intended to end the violent conflict. Meanwhile, 10 civilians were reportedly killed in rebel shelling of checkpoint near the town of Volnovakha in the Donetsk region while the passenger bus was passing through it. The pro-Russian rebel groups denied claims stating that they did not conduct any operation in that place.
The months-long conflict in eastern Ukraine has come at the cost of an increasingly-high death toll with a large increase in the numbers of internally displace people. Almost 5,000 people were reportedly killed during heavy clashes in rebel-held areas, according to U.N. figures. A major humanitarian crisis has hit the country hard since the trouble erupted in February 2014. Following pro-Russian rebels self-proclaiming the existence of the Donetsk People's Republic in April, instability has prevailed in eastern Ukraine. After declaring their independence, clashes have increased throughout the region where government forces have stepped up operations.