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Top Ukrainian And German Diplomats Talk NATO And Conflict In Eastern Ukraine

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (right) and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba leave a joint press conference after bilateral discussions in Berlin on June 2.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (right) and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba leave a joint press conference after bilateral discussions in Berlin on June 2.

BERLIN – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has discussed the ongoing conflict with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, Kyiv’s relationship with NATO, and the issue of Russia-annexed Crimea with German officials during a one-day visit to Berlin.

At a joint press conference after the talks on June 2, Kuleba and his German counterpart Heiko Maas said they had agreed to accelerate the implementation of agreements reached in Paris in December during talks held in the so-called Normandy Format, a diplomatic process involving Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France to end fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Maas also said that Germany will continue to support Ukraine in the European Union as well as Kyiv's ties with NATO.

Germany’s top diplomat stressed the importance of ending fighting in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, known as the Donbas, some parts of which have been controlled by Moscow-supported separatists since April 2014.

More than 13,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the conflict, including some 50 Ukrainian soldiers killed this year.

Maas also pushed for more crossing points along the demarcation line in the Donbas, pointing out that the current five such points along the 400-kilometer line of contact are not enough.

Maas also said that it was important to continue demining operations in the conflict zone and stated that "all sides need compromises."

Kuleba said that Kyiv wants peace in the Donbas, but such peace should not lead to "crossing the red lines," which "are national security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine."

Kuleba also addressed the importance of providing access to the International Committee of the Red Cross for Ukrainians illegally held in Russia-annexed Crimea.

Kuleba separately mentioned dozens of Crimean Tatars held in Crimea and in Russia, saying Moscow is carrying out an "intentional policy" of persecution against the Muslim Turkic-speaking people of Crimea, the majority of whom opposed the peninsula's annexation by Russia in 2014.

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