Published: Wed, December 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Ukraine conflict: Putin and Zelensky hold landmark talks in Paris

Ukraine conflict: Putin and Zelensky hold landmark talks in Paris

Meeting face to face at a four-way summit with the leaders of France and Germany in Paris, all sides also agreed to push for an "all for all" prisoner exchange by the end of the year.

Kiev wants to seal a lasting ceasefire in the Donbass region, the exchange of all prisoners, and a timeline for the withdrawal of all illegal armed forces from regions under the control of Russia-backed separatists, Ukrainian officials said.

At the Paris meeting of world leaders known as the Normandy 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenzkiy to discuss the conflict in Ukraine, with Zelenskiy saying a ceasefire could occur by the end of the year.

But talking to CGTN's Anand Naidoo, two experts explained just how hard that process is likely to be.

"We do need support, because Russian Federation wages war not only against us", said one soldier, who goes under a call name "Crab".

At a press conference after the talks in France's Élysée Palace, President Putin hailed the talks as an "important step" towards a de-escalation of the conflict. The two leaders have already taken steps toward compromise: They recently hammered out a deal for a prisoner swap that paved the way for Monday's meeting.

Thousands have been killed and one million people have fled their homes since pro-Russia militias in eastern Ukraine launched a bid for independence in 2014 - kicking off a conflict that deepened Russia's estrangement from the West. Zelensky, a comedian-turned-politician was elected earlier this year on a promise to resolve the conflict in the region.

Kiev has made clear its determination to never give up the peninsula, which the worldwide community regards as part of Ukraine.

Some Ukrainians fear Zelenskiy will be out-manoeuvred by Putin in Monday's meeting.

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While Zelenskiy still enjoys broad public support, he has been embarrassed by the scandal around his discussions with US President Donald Trump that unleashed an impeachment inquiry.

Kateryna Kruk, a Ukrainian political analyst and journalist, however, praised Zelenskiy for standing firm on agreeing to elections in separatist-controlled areas of the Donbas only after Ukraine regains control of the border.

The aide, Andriy Yermak, denied that he and Sondland were ever in conversation alone and said Sondland never told him that military aid was dependent upon Ukraine opening or announcing investigations into the 2016 election interference and Hunter Biden's board appointment at Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

This screen grab from an AFP TV video shows a Femen activist detained by a policeman after protesting against Russian President Vladimir Putin's arrival at the Elysee Palace to attend a summit on Ukraine, in Paris, on December 9, 2019. He suggested, among other things, that the president was prepared to agree to elections in the Donbas too soon and without appropriate concessions from Russian Federation.

"Their quick and thorough implementation is essential and would have a direct positive impact on the lives of people in eastern Ukraine on both sides of the contact line", an European Union spokesman said in a statement.

While opinion surveys have shown overwhelming support for Zelenskiy's peace efforts, some suspect the political rookie of being too soft and prone to making concessions to Russian Federation.

He said an amensty for residents of Donetsk and Luhansk must be granted prior to any handover. Macron has sought to reset relations with Putin after years of sanctions, but that warming has caused concern among the eastern European states of the EU.

So how did we get here?

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