Merkel and Putin say Ukraine peace talks ‘moving forward’

German chancellor in Moscow for 70th anniversary of end of second World War

 German chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian president Vladimir Putin during their talks in the Kremlin. Photograph: EPA/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool

German chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian president Vladimir Putin during their talks in the Kremlin. Photograph: EPA/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool

 

Russian president Vladimir Putin said after talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday that the peace process in eastern Ukraine was progressing despite difficulties.

Dr Merkel reaffirmed her support for the peace efforts and repeated her calls to Mr Putin to use his influence with pro-Russian separatists battling Kiev government forces to end a conflict in which more than 6,000 people have been killed since April 2014.

“There is every reason to believe the Minsk process is moving forward, though with problems,” Mr Putin told a joint news conference with Dr Merkel, referring to the peace deal signed in February in the Belarussian capital.

“With all the problems in east Ukraine, it has nevertheless become quieter,” he said, adding that direct dialogue between the Kiev government and the separatists was crucial for peace.

Soured relations

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“But still, the lesson of history is that we have to try everything to solve conflicts – as difficult as they might seem – peacefully and in dialogue and that means diplomatically,” Dr Merkel said.

The German chancellor was visiting Russia for events to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the second World War in Europe, although she stayed away from a military parade on Red Square on Saturday.

Thousands of Russian troops marched across the square, tanks rumbled through the streets and jets screamed overhead in a huge military parade marking anniversary.

On show was the Armata T-14, Russia’s first new tank to be deployed for 40 years, and soldiers, some in second World War uniforms, filed past under blue skies and bright sunshine.

Violated ceasefire

Both sides report small numbers of casualties on an almost daily basis.

Before their talks yesterday, Mr Putin and Dr Merkel took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the walls of the Kremlin. – (Reuters)