From left, the foreign ministers from Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin, France, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Germany, Heiko Maas, and Russia, Sergey Lavrov, pose for the media prior to a meeting in Berlin, Germany, Monday, June 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Peace talks between Russia, Ukraine get underway in Berlin

June 11, 2018 - 2:21 pm

BERLIN (AP) — The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany met in Berlin Monday for talks on bringing an end to the fighting between Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The focus of the meeting was implementing an unfulfilled peace accord reached in the Belarus capital of Minsk in 2015 and the possibility of bringing United Nations peacekeepers to the region where an armed conflict has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014.

The talks in Germany's capital were the first of the so-called "Normandy" group in more than a year. They brought Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov together at a German Foreign Ministry villa along with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Heading into the meetings, Maas said he hoped they would provide new impetus toward a possible U.N. mission in eastern Ukraine.

"We believe that it would be able to relaunch the peace process and also provide a new framework," he said. "Both Russia and Ukraine have already welcomed this in principle, but the views on this are still very far apart.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed sending a U.N. peacekeeping force where clashes often occur, along the line separating the rebel-controlled territories and the area under Ukrainian government control.

The U.S. and Ukraine are concerned such a deployment would solidify the line as the new de facto border between Ukrainian-controlled territory and separatist-controlled territory. Washington and Kiev want peacekeepers assigned throughout the separatist-controlled regions stretching to the Ukraine-Russia border.

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