Ukraine’s president has called for holding local elections in the war-torn east, along with the rest of the country, in October, despite the ongoing conflict in the region.
Speaking on February 15 at the Munich Security Conference, Volodymyr Zelenskiy again made a plea for support from Western nations for help in Kyiv's fight against Russia-backed separatists.
"The war in Ukraine -- I know -- is a war in Europe. Together with the annexation of Crimea, it has already been going on for as long as World War II -- just imagine!” Zelenskiy said.
"Our wish today is to hold local elections throughout all the territories of Ukraine, including particular parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in October 2020," he said. "There is the same wish concerning the territory of Crimea as well."
"The people in Donbas need elections that will be recognized by Ukraine and the entire world as legitimate," he said. "And they cannot be such if they are not held in line with Ukrainian legislation, at the sound of gunfire, and without [Ukraine's] control of our border."
In December, Zelenskiy met with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Paris as part of the so-called Normandy Format talks. Germany and France also participated.
But the talks failed to produce a concrete resolution to the conflict, which has killed more than 13,000 people and displaced more than 1 million.