KIEV, Oct. 31 (Reuters / EP) –
The president of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelenski, announced on Thursday that there will be more withdrawals of military forces in eastern Ukraine to pave the way for the celebration of a summit of the Normandy Quartet (Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany) with views to seal the end of the war.
This week, the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatist militiamen have begun with the withdrawal of the town of Zolote, in eastern Ukraine, an initiative framed in a series of measures to try to end a war that has killed over 13,000 people in the last five years.
At a press conference in Kiev with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Zelenski has told the press that Ukraine plans to withdraw military forces from the town of Petrivske because no violations of the ceasefire have been reported in that area in The latest dates
The Ukrainian president has hoped that this new withdrawal of troops will help lay the groundwork for a summit with the leaders of the countries that make up the so-called Normandy Quartet (Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany).
“I have no doubt that we will have a meeting if all parties commit to it and want to meet with the Normandy four format,” he said.
The relations of Ukraine and Russia deteriorated by the decision of the Russian authorities to annex the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014 and by their support for pro-Russian separatist militiamen fighting against the forces under Kiev command in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, in eastern Ukraine.
The ceasefire signed in the capital of Belarus, Minsk, in 2015 contributed to stop the clashes although, since that date, there have been breaches and the two sides accuse each other of not respecting the cessation of hostilities.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine have said that on Wednesday there were seven bombings carried out with weapons that are prohibited under the ceasefire agreement that is still in force. The Kremlin has previously blamed the Government of Ukraine for the lack of progress to be able to convene the Normandy Quartet meeting.
Zelenski won with a clear majority in the April elections with the promise of ending the war in Ukraine. In September, the Ukrainian president agreed with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, an exchange of prisoners that has brought the closest rapprochement between the two countries since the beginning of the war. Critics with Zelenski accuse him of having surrendered in excess to Russia's demands in order to move towards the end of the war.
On the other hand, Zelenski has made it clear that Ukraine is ready to accelerate preparations to become a member of NATO, following the meeting it held Thursday with the Allied Secretary General. Stoltenberg has called on Russia to withdraw its military forces from eastern Ukraine and return the Ukrainian Navy ships intercepted by the Russian Coast Guard in 2018 in the Azov Sea.
“The allies are encouraged by the advance in Stanitsia Luhanska and other areas, where the troops are retreating,” Stoltenberg said. “Elsewhere, however, the Donbas conflict continues to take lives,” he added.
The NATO Secretary General has subsequently addressed the members of the Ukrainian Parliament, to whom he has transferred that it is necessary for the country to implement reforms and fight corruption in order to join NATO. “This will support the aspiration of Ukraine to join NATO one day,” he stressed. “As a sovereign country, Ukraine has the right to choose its own security agreements. NATO's door remains open,” he concluded.