Peace in sight? Paris summit seeks solution for Ukraine war


Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet face-to-face Monday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time, as the leaders hope to end a long standoff in the Donbas region.

The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France were holding a series of meetings at the Elysee presidential palace on Monday to try to revive a 2015 peace deal in eastern Ukraine that's been largely ignored.

The Lithuanian president praised Ukraine for "leadership and ambition" to seek peace in eastern Ukraine but also pointed to the fact that Russia-supported armed groups are still violating the ceasefire. In his turn, a spokesman for the Elysee Palace told TASS that the French presidential administration did not have information on a meeting between Putin and Zelensky, saying that the two countries' press services should be briefed on the matter.

The two leaders are due to meet for the first time since Zelensky's election in April at the talks in Paris, mediated by French and German leaders Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday said he is "1,000% confident" that Russian Federation, not Ukraine, meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, breaking from President Donald Trump and others in his party who have pushed the discredited conspiracy theory.

Whatever happens, the summit is the biggest test yet for Zelenskiy, a comic actor and political novice who won the presidency this year in a landslide - partly on promises to end the war.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will also take part in Monday's summit, rallied European Union countries against Russia's military intervention in Ukraine five years ago.

With Zelenskiy's popularity fading over his economic-reform agenda and ties to a controversial local billionaire, European diplomats fear a window to end the war may be closing, according to two officials familiar with the negotiations.

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Several thousand people rallied yesterday in Kyiv to demand that the president defend the country's interests.

More than five years of fighting in eastern Ukraine between government troops and Moscow-backed separatists has killed more than 14,000 people, and a cease-fire has remained elusive.

While U.S. intelligence services have repeatedly pointed to Russian Federation as the entity behind the DNC hack, some Republicans and Trump media allies have pushed unvetted claims about Ukraine also being involved in an attempt to justify the president's delay of $400 in military aid to the country.

The Russian and Ukrainian heads of state have not met in person since 2016 - the year in which Russian, Ukrainian, and American politics became entwined to a very uncomfortable degree. Russian Federation has also released three Ukrainian navy ships it seized in a Black Sea incident a year ago. Russian Federation would like an end to Western sanctions that have led to economic stagnation. He added that members of the alliance continue to interfere in Russia's domestic affairs.

Russian Federation is under USA and European sanctions for its actions against Ukraine, including its annexation of Crimea in early 2014 and its military support for separatists who carved off a chunk of eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has cost more than 13,000 lives.

The EU is expected to extend sanctions this week by another six months.

"Obviously every ambassador informs the centre (Moscow) about all the s he has so the information gets to us, but we are not willing to comment on internal discussions being held in Washington", Peskov said.