Talk between Putin, Merkel and Hollande: Putin demands lifting of trade blockade from the separatist republics
On April 4, a telephone conversation took place between three of the four participants in the "Normandy Format" of negotiations regarding the settlement of the situation in the uncontrolled territories of the Donbas. Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande attended. The negotiators discussed the situation in the Donbas, the continuation of the "Minsk process" [another format of negotiations on the same topic], and the "Easter" truce in the Donbas, which was to begin on April 1.
The press service of the German government said that all three sides agreed that every effort should be made to calm the situation on the line of contact of the parties in the Donbas. In this case, according to Steffen Seibert, the spokesperson of the press service, the Chancellor called on the Russian leader to use his influence on the separatists to this end.
The press service of Hollande commented on the conversation very briefly. They identified only one topic of the telephone conversation - the continuation of the "Minsk process", which is to be held in the next weeks.
In addition, Western leaders expressed their condolences to the Russian president over the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg that occurred on April 3 [the terrorist brought a bag with a bomb in the metro, resulting in 14 deaths and nearly 50 injured]. The leaders agreed to further strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism, and in particular to speed up the exchange of information on this matter.
"The interlocutors noted the importance of increasing cooperation to counter the terrorist threat common to all states. They agreed to intensify the exchange of information on this through the lines of Special Services," said a statement by the Kremlin’s press service.
Regarding the situation in the Donbas, the interlocutors noted the need to ensure a stable ceasefire on the entire line of contact and compliance by the parties with the "Easter truce" announced on April 1. At the same time, the Ukrainian media reported that the shelling by the separatists has not stopped.
The Kremlin press service informs that Putin "spoke in favor of urgently launching work to implement the political aspects of the Minsk accords” and stressed the importance of synchronizing steps in the spheres of security and political settlement, which should be reflected in the draft “road map” prepared by assistant leaders In accordance with the decisions of the "Normandy Four" summit in Berlin on October 19, 2016.
The Kremlin also noted that Putin insisted on the need to lift as soon as possible the trade blockade of the uncontrolled territories of the Donbas, which since January 2017 has been conducted by veterans of the war in the east of Ukraine, as well as to apply measures to address the social and economic problems of the population of the Donbas.
"We discussed the complex humanitarian situation separately," said the press service of the Russian president. The Kremlin’s press service did not comment on the reaction of Western leaders.