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Another Minsk II Summit in the Making

June 20, 2016 (EIRNS)—Whereas Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is coming under harsh attacks from the Christian Democrats and, particularly, the Greens in Germany for his critical remarks last weekend on the ongoing NATO build-up, Chancellor Angela Merkel (Christian Democrat) is working on another "Normandy Format" summit with the Presidents of France and Russia, on the Minsk II process. Berlin rumors have it that this might take place even before the July 8-9 NATO Summit in Warsaw. The succession of meetings between Putin, Poroshenko, Hollande, and Merkel led over the last year to the formulating of a Minsk II solution to the still-unresolved crisis in Eastern Ukraine. Now there are separate channels between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry complementing the Normandy negotiations (named because the first meeting of the quartet of leaders took place in Normandy at commemoration of the D-Day landing).

Although the European Union is generally expected to okay the extension of sanctions against Russia on June 28, its summit provides an option of a short-notice postponing of the sanctions vote, on the basis of new Russian or Franco-German proposals coming out of the “Normandy process.” In St. Petersburg last weekend, at the International Economic Forum, former French President Sarkozy called for a lifting of sanctions and a normalization of relations with Russia, and suggested to Putin that he take the first step by unilaterally lifting the sanctions Russia imposed on Europe after the EU sanctions against Russia were adopted.