Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said he will advance four key issues during an upcoming four-way meeting with the leaders of Germany, France, and Russia on a potential peace settlement in the Donbas conflict.
While visiting the opening of a reconstructed bridge in the frontline town of Stanytsya Luhanske on November 20, Zelenskiy said the most important discussion point was conducting local and regional elections in territories that Kyiv doesn't currently control.
Holding elections "is one of the difficult ones because it has many components," he said.
"This is an opportunity to hold local elections already in the territory of Ukraine, not in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine. It's the most important issue," Zelenskiy said.
The return of all Ukrainian captives is another priority as well as regaining control over its border with Russia. According to the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service, Kyiv doesn't control 409 kilometers of its eastern border with Russia.
Sealing a permanent cease-fire is paramount, Zelenskiy said, while adding that the current truce in the Donbas, where Moscow-backed separatists have fought Ukrainian forces since April 2014, was "fake."
"It's, you know, temporary," he said. "For two-three days there could be no shooting and then somebody starts shooting, which over time becomes serious and we start to lose people. Therefore, we need a serious cease-fire when no shots are fired."
Zelenskiy complained that the current peace road map for the Donbas conflict, known as the Minsk accords, didn't stipulate consequences for cease-fire violations.
"I want to talk about this and achieve a result," the president said.
The four-way talks are planned for December 9 in Paris where French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to host delegations led by Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Zelenskiy.
More than 13,000 people have been killed in the Donbas war and 1.5 million more internally displaced.
Kyiv blames Moscow for commanding and controlling the militants in eastern Ukraine, which includes leading, training and fighting beside them, as well as arming them.
Russia has portrayed the war as a civil conflict between Ukrainians and denies direct involvement, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.