Quartet FMs start talks on Ukraine peace in Paris
Foreign ministers of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine have started a meeting in Paris to discuss ways to save a ceasefire deal aimed at ending the bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The group, known as the Normandy Quartet, kicked off negotiations in Paris on Tuesday in what could be another attempt to make the warring sides of the Ukrainian conflict respect a fragile truce deal.
The deal, known as the Minsk II agreement, was reached between the leaders of the four countries on February 12 in the Belarusian capital, but it has effectively failed to halt the deadly fighting which has claimed the lives of more than 5,700 people over the past 10 months.
Both pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army have repeatedly violated the agreement, with the two sides blaming each other for ignoring the articles of the deal.
The major component of the deal was for both parties to pull out their heavy weaponry 25 to 70 kilometers back from the separation line to create a buffer zone. However, disputes remain on where exactly the frontline is and the two sides keep claiming some territories.
Moscow says the pro-Russians have pulled back some major artillery from the frontline in the city of Debaltseve, while Kiev has yet to start any withdrawal as it keeps insisting that positions of its army are being shelled.