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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 372
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Talks Between Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France Net Mixed Results
6 years
Fourth Victim of Sunday's Bombing In Kharkiv Dies
Savchenko, Health Worsening, Calls For Supporters To Join March 1 Protest In Moscow

The French Foreign Ministry is hosting talks today between the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France, but it's not clear what these four-way talks will accomplish.

The Russian government-operated propaganda outlet Sputnik is carrying statements from Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov who says that the three hour talks have been "fruitful":

"It was a useful meeting," Lavrov told reporters in a brief comment without further elaboration...

According to the Russian Foreign minister the situation in Donbas has improved significantly, a point that Russia's Western partners have also acknowledged.

"The situation has improved significantly, this was acknowledged by my partners," Russia's top diplomat said following the Paris meeting.

Meanwhile, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the BBC Ukrainian Service, that the Ukrainian foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, has said that the Normandy quartet of foreign ministers were unable to reach an agreement on the Russian-backed seizure of Debaltsevo.

"Unfortunately, there was no political decision with regards to what happened in Debaltsevo."

Klimkin did however add that:

"We were able to agree on a range of technical aspects, including the important issues of how to support the OSCE mission, increasing the capabilities of this mission and, of course, maintaining the ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops."

But fundamental differences remain about whether various aspects of the Minsk deal are being met. Ukraine says that their positions continue to be attacked by Russian-supported forces, while the separatists deny those claims. Ukraine says that as a result it cannot withdraw its heavy artillery, whereas today the separatists claim that they are withdrawing heavy weaponry from the area around Debaltsevo and Donetsk. The Ukrainian government, however, remains doubtful. Reuters reports:

"Today at 9 in the morning (1 a.m. ET) the planned withdrawal of heavy equipment started," rebel commander Eduard Basurin told Reuters. "We're pulling it back 50 km (30 miles) from the boundary line ... Of course we won't say exactly where we're pulling it back to."

Basurin denied Ukrainian military reports of fighting in southeast Ukraine, saying there had been "provocations" from the government side but no serious clashes.

But the Kiev military said in a statement that rebel assertions they were pulling back guns were "mere empty words".
"On the contrary, the terrorist groups, making use of the ceasefire period, are reinforcing their units and building up ammunition."

We will continue to monitor troop movements to see whether we can confirm reports that the Russian-backed forces have started to withdraw, but as we have reported below they appear to be still on the offensive near Mariupol, south of Donetsk.

As far as improving the OSCE's capabilities, we've heard that before, but at this moment the OSCE does not appear to be equipped to monitor this ceasefire.

-- James Miller, Piere Vaux