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(UPDATED) Yermak travels to Paris, meets Normandy Format advisors amid Russian escalation

January 26, 2022 9:06 pmby Alexander Query
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Russian President Vladimir Putin's Deputy Chief of Staff Dmitry Kozak (L) met with President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak in Paris on Jan. 26, amid the growing Russian military buildup near Ukraine's borders. (Courtesy)

Representatives of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany met on Jan. 26 in Paris for low-level talks amid Kremlin's growing military buildup.

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak praised the renewed talks between the Normandy Format countries upon his arrival to Paris.

In Paris, Yermak met with Russian President Vladimir Putin's Deputy Chief of Staff Dmitry Kozak, France’s Emmanuel Bonne, and Germany’s Jens Plötner.

“The fact that we restored the Normandy format is a positive signal,” Yermak said after the meeting. He added that the sides discussed the ceasefire in Donbas, the Minsk agreements and agreed to meet again in Berlin in two weeks.

In a separate press conference, Kozak said that "all agreed that as long as there are differences in the interpretation of the Minsk agreements… the Normandy format is unlikely to play any significant role in resolving the conflict."

The talks predate the future meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and Putin set for Jan. 28. Macron said on Jan. 24 he was seeking "a path to de-escalation,” and said he scheduled the meeting so “everyone’s intentions can be clarified.”

Altogether, the leaders of the Normandy Format countries – Ukraine, France, Germany, and Russia – have not met since 2019. The Normandy Format and the so-called Trilateral Contact Group are the two set of talks launched in 2014 to find a peaceful solution to Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

Both seek to implement the Minsk Agreements signed after a Russian military offensive in February 2015. Russia's ongoing eight-year-long war has killed over 13,000 people.

​​According to the latest intelligence data, Moscow has concentrated over 120,000 troops in regions surrounding Ukraine and deployed a substantial number of combat-ready weaponry and military hardware near Ukrainian borders moved from Russia's far east districts.

The ongoing diplomatic effort led by the West has had no positive effect so far, while the Kremlin continues with its extreme warlike rhetoric, particularly accusing Ukraine of discriminating against the Russian-speaking population and NATO of posing a grave security threat to Russia.

“All diplomatic resources must be used to guarantee the security of the continent," France’s Elysee Palace added in its official statement.

Alexander Query
Author: Alexander Query

Alexander Query is a business reporter at the Kyiv Independent. He is the former business editor at the Kyiv Post. He worked as a TV correspondent and an anchorman at UATV in Ukraine, and received a BA in modern literature from La Sorbonne, in Paris.

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