The foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France met in Berlin on Monday to discuss the implementation of a fragile ceasefire for Ukraine and the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission in the country's conflict zone.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said after the four-way talks that Russia and Ukraine agreed in principle on a UN peacekeeping mission, but their ideas about how to implement it were still "very much apart." "Regarding the parameters of a possible UN mission for Eastern Ukraine, we agreed to instruct our political directors to continue negotiations not about if but how such a mission could happen and discuss this in the coming weeks," Maas said.
It was the first meeting of the foreign ministers since February 2017, though lower level officials have met regularly in the past four years in the so-called Normandy format to try to resolve the separatist conflict in Eastern Ukraine, in which more than 10,000 people have been killed.
Relations between Moscow and Kiev have been tense since a popular uprising drove a pro-Russian president from power in 2014. Russia went on to annex Crimea from Ukraine and backed a pro-Russian separatist insurgency in the country's east. A ceasefire agreement that was signed in February 2015 in Minsk has failed to end the violence, with fighters from both sides violating the peace plan on a nearly daily basis.