A new round of talks aimed at fostering implementation of a cease-fire and peace deal for the conflict in eastern Ukraine was held in Minsk, Belarus, on July 19.
The talks involved representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which are participants in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG).
OSCE Ambassador Martin Sajdik said that there had been some progress in implementing aspects of the 2015 Minsk accords, which called for a cease-fire and steps to resolve the conflict.
In particular, Sajdik cited progress on prisoner exchanges between the Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces.
After a Moscow-friendly president was pushed from power by massive protests in Kyiv, Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and fomented separatism in eastern Ukraine, where the ensuing war has killed more than 10,000 people since April 2014.
Officials in Ukraine, Russia, and the West said that the July 18 declaration by separatists in the Donetsk region of a new state called Malorossia, or Little Russia, ran counter to the Minsk accords and could jeopardize the already slow movement to implement them.