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Putin, Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Speak On Phone Ahead Of Next Month’s Planned Meeting


A meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is planned for December 9.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the phone, two weeks before their planned meeting in Paris.

Statements from the Kremlin and Zelenskiy's office said the November 25 call included discussion of three-way negotiations between Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union for Russia to keep sending natural gas to European customers via pipelines that traverse Ukraine.

A gas-transit contract between Moscow and Kyiv expires on January 1, while the next round of EU-mediated talks for a new contract are scheduled for next week.

Disputes between the two neighbors in 2006 and 2009 left many European countries with gas shortages in mid-winter.

Zelenskiy's office also said he insisted that Russia "return all weapons, equipment, and documentation that had been aboard" three Ukrainian naval vessels that were impounded by Russia in 2018 and returned to Ukraine last week.

Neither statement mentioned the planned December 9 meeting with the leaders of France and Germany whose purpose is to put an end to the Donbas conflict with Moscow-backed separatists.

Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula preceded the war, which has killed more than 13,000 people and internally displaced 1.5 million more since April 2014.

Shooting on both sides persist on a daily basis, often leading to casualties, including civilians.

Ukraine's military reported on November 25 that a woman was wounded by gunfire while walking with her 3-year-old child in the Ukrainian-controlled frontline town of Maryinka in the eastern Donetsk region.

A joint statement in July following the EU-Ukraine summit stated that Moscow's actions toward Ukraine since February 2014 constitute "aggression by the Russian armed forces."

Russia denies direct involvement in the Donbas conflict, insisting that it is purely an internal conflict.

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