Photo: The Presidential Office of Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine are not any closer to a new date for new negotiations over the war in Eastern Ukraine.

More than 14,000 people have lost their lives in Eastern Ukraine after war broke out between Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists in 2014. Millions were displaced. Several truces have been introduced, reducing fighting over the years, but negotiations about lasting peace to end the war haven’t had any significant breakthroughs. 

The Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met back in 2019 but haven’t been able to set a new date for a new meeting so far. And according to the Kremlin, it is unlikely that a meeting will take place. 

“No, it would be out of the question (to discuss Crimea) if the issue is raised. Discussing Crimea is clearly not possible. Therefore, this wording actually calls into question the hypothetical possibility of such a meeting,” said Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov recently, according to Tass. At the same time, also Deputy Chairman of the Security Council in Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, recently made it clear that they have no reason to meet with Ukraine. 

The Russian response comes after Ukraine has been pushing for a meeting with several statements. The Ukrainian government points out that they are ready to meet to discuss peace and point to Russia being reluctant to talk. A Russian military buildup near the Ukrainian border back in Spring this year made people nervous about escalating the war in Eastern Ukraine. Still, Russia withdrew its troops after a couple of weeks. 

“Every day, I receive some news from Russia where officials comment on the prospects for holding this meeting [between the presidents of Ukraine and Russia]. On the one hand, they avoid this meeting in every possible way and, on the other hand, they cannot stop talking about it. At the moment, we are actually waiting for a clear answer from Russia on whether they are ready to meet or not,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to Ukrinform

“This is a matter of negotiations. But the main thing is that Russia now looks confused and cannot give us a clear answer: do you meet with us or not?” Kuleba said.

About the war

The war in the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine broke out in 2014 after Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea and after Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from office in the Maidan Revolution. According to the UN, more than 14,000 people have lost their lives in the war in Eastern Ukraine, and millions have been displaced. 

Several peace deals have been negotiated over the years. Firstly with little effect, but a 2015 peace deal, which is known as Minsk 2, managed to reduce fighting, but no real end to the war has been reached. Since then, negotiations have been ongoing in the so-called Minsk Format with Ukraine, Russia, and the separatists. At the same time, Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine have been negotiating peace in the so-called Normandie Format. 

A new meeting might be underway soon in the Normandie Format. Zelensky recently spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron about finding a way to end the war, according to DW. No date has been set yet.