Minsk (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Since yesterday evening in Minsk the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, and France, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been holding a marathon meeting in an attempt to come up with a practicable peace plan for Ukraine.
At the same time a Contact Group is working to formalize the plan on the ground. The Group is composed of representatives from Russia, Ukraine, separatists and OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). The two groups have continued to meet throughout the night.
During breaks, press were able to snatch a few brief comments from the Russian, French and German parties about the progress of talks. Without giving too much away, all parties said they are hoping for a positive result, which should be finalized tomorrow.
Discussions are focusing on "putting into effect the agreement signed in Minsk on 5 September", which was never acted on. It provided for a ceasefire, which has never been observed. In recent days, before meeting in Minsk, the rebel cities of Luhansk and Donetsk were bombed, while the rebels bombed government forces in Devbaltseve. Within a matter of days, hundreds of civilians were killed. From September to now, the rebels have gained at least 500 square kilometers of land. According to the UN, so far the conflict has caused 5486 deaths and 12972 wounded.
The implementation of the Minsk protocol provides for an "immediate and bilateral ceasefire", the withdrawal of "illegal armed groups, heavy weapons and all the fighters and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine," the release "without delay" of all prisoners and hostages; an inclusive national dialogue "open to" the "decentralization" of power, an amnesty for some of the fighters and the launch of local elections according to Ukrainian legislation.
Europe has threatened new economic sanctions against Russia - which is arming (and fighting with) rebels - if there will are no results in Minsk. The United States has promised to equip the Ukrainian army with powerful and lethal weapons. According to European politicians, this can only trigger an uncontrollable conflict.