Russia and Ukraine officials are set to meet for first time in over a year on June 11, suggesting the two sides may be prepared to restart efforts to resolve the civil war in eastern Ukraine.
However, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who will mediate the talks in Berlin along with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, warned ahead of the meeting that “Ukraine and Russia’s interests and views lie far apart in many areas.”
“The implementation of the Minsk accords stalled for too long, at the expense of the people in eastern Ukraine, who wish for nothing more ardently than peace,” Maas told German daily paper Bild. “I have no illusions — the new start will be difficult.”
Berlin’s top diplomat also indicated that he hoped Monday’s talks would pave the way to resuming talks in the so-called Normandy format — bringing together the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France — with the aim of implementing the 2015 Minsk peace accords agreed in the Belarusian capital.