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PARIS – Russian and Ukrainian leaders agreed to implement a ceasefire and a prisoners’ swap by years end, following four-way talks in Paris on Monday that also included France and Germany.
The four heads of state said they had made progress and that just talking was a key step forward. They are to meet again in four months.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was confident of the ceasefire would take place this month. He outlined both steps forward and progress still to be made during a late night press conference, echoing similar remarks made by other leaders there.
“It’s not a frozen situation,” Zelensky said. “And to answer your question, yes I do feel we will meet again in another four months, and be in a position to go forward and address other questions on the basis of our achievements.”
This is the first meeting between Zelensky and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin since the Ukrainian actor took office earlier this year. It’s the first such four-way summit since 2016 that also includes France and Germany.
Putin said describing a possible thaw between Russia and Ukraine was correct.
“We’ve have had progress on most issues,” Putin said. “All of this does suggest that things are going the right way.”
The talks aim to pave a solution to the ongoing conflict between the two countries that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014. Both sides have since accused the other of failing to honor a 2015 peace agreement.
President Zelensky, a political newcomer, has made ending the conflict a priority.
But many Ukrainians are worried he may concede too much. Ahead of the Paris meeting, thousands demonstrated in the capital Kyiv against any so-called “capitulation” to Moscow.
The talks are also seen as a diplomatic test for host Emmanuel Macron. The French President wants to re-engage with Russia after several years of European Union sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. But that has gotten pushback from EU members like Poland.