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Kyiv Says Date For Four-Way Peace Talks Depends Upon Russia

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystayko (file photo)
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystayko (file photo)

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystayko says the timing of a four-way summit aimed at resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine depends upon Russia.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's Defense Minister Andriy Zahorodnyuk said on November 1 that Kyiv was postponing the withdrawal of its forces from the town of Petrivske, a disengagement that had been planned for November 4, because of a cease-fire violation by Russia-backed separatists that occurred there on October 30.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had said on October 31 that the Petrivske disengagement would take place on November 4 provided the pro-Russia separatists there continued to respect a cease-fire agreement,

The disengagement of forces near Petrivske is seen as key step ahead of a long-awaited summit that would bring together leaders from Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany to discuss how to end the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists.

Ukrainian armed forces have been fighting the separatists in Luhansk and the neighboring Donetsk region in a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people since April 2014.

Under a deal reached earlier this month to end the five-year conflict, the sides agreed to start withdrawing from their positions near Petrivske and the town of Zolote.

"We are implementing the agreements that were reached," Prystayko told a press briefing in Kyiv on November 1.

"Effectively, there are two: recognizing the Steinmeier Formula as a way of solving this complicated issue, and disengagement at three sites. Today, we are close to disengaging at the last site, so in principle we will create all necessary conditions," Prystayko said.

The Steinmeier Formula lays the groundwork for reinvigorating the larger peace deals known loosely as the Minsk Accords, and the first major international summit on the Ukraine conflict in three years.

"Currently, [the so-called Normandy-format meeting] largely depends on the Russian side," Prystayko said.

Prystayko's statement comes after he voiced hope on October 29 that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy would meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, next month for peace talks mediated by the leaders of France and Germany, in what is known as the Normandy format.

During a visit to Budapest on October 30, Putin said he was ready to have a meeting with the leaders of Ukraine, France, and Germany.

But Putin said such a meeting "needs to be well-prepared and produce specific results that will help the settlement."

Speaking in Kyiv on November 1, Deputy Prime Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine planned to conduct large-scale exercises in the Black Sea with NATO next year, lasting four days.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Interfax
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