German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass acknowledged having “principally different positions with Russia on many issues” on August 21 before departing for Moscow to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
He also urged Moscow to play a constructive role in reviving peace efforts for Ukraine, which has been fighting Kremlin-backed separatists for more than five years at a cost of more than 13,000 lives.
“We have hope for the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to issues of cease-fire, disengagement of forces, and implementation of the Minsk agreements," Mass said in Berlin regarding a cease-fire that hasn't fully taken hold. "Now all sides need to demonstrate readiness for dialogue and action, or people will continue to die in this conflict."
To resolve the issue, “we need direct and open dialogue,” Mass said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy earlier this month urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to help halt the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Insisting that peace can be returned to Ukraine only by way of diplomacy, Zelenskiy has also called for a new round of talks within the Normandy Format that includes Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France.
The last Normandy meeting took place in Berlin on October 19, 2016.
When French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Putin at his summer retreat in France on August 19, he said, “We want…a new summit in the Normandy Format in the coming weeks…in close cooperation with President Zelenskiy and [German] Chancellor [Angela] Merkel.”
The Russian president voiced support for the Normandy Format, though no date for further talks was set, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on August 20.
Lavrov and Mass spoke about Ukraine as recently as last month at the Petersburg Dialogue, a two-day bilateral civil society forum that was held in the German town of Konigswinter, near Bonn, Deutsche Welle reported.
Mass and Lavrov are also expected to discuss the Syrian civil war where Russian is involved militarily, developments in the Persian Gulf, and the future of arms control, TASS news agency reported.