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Steinmeier Pushes for Ceasefire in Ukraine

Sept. 15, 2016 (EIRNS)—German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is pushing for a viable ceasefire in southeast Ukraine, where a series of efforts over the past two years have failed to completely silence the guns. Steinmeier was in Kiev yesterday, along with his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, where they met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin for discussions on the situation. They also met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, about which Steinmeier said that Poroshenko told him he would guarantee observance of the ceasefire by the regime. "We came here with announcements from Moscow that ceasefire would take effect today as of 24:00 hours," Steinmeier said, according to TASS. "During the meeting with Poroshenko we spoke of our satisfaction with the fact this result had been achieved," he said, adding that Poroshenko told him Ukraine would abide by the ceasefire. If both sides do abide by the ceasefire, Steinmeier said, "then I hope we’ll get an opportunity to coordinate a further withdrawal of troops in several pilot areas." TASS added, however, that despite the agreement to test the ceasefire in ten pilot areas, only two have so far been agreed on, one each in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Today, the three foreign ministers visited government-held Kramatorsk, in the conflict zone. "Anyone familiar with such conflicts ... will know that we have no reason to be optimistic," Steinmeier said in an interview with Deutsche Welle. But, he added, the ceasefire would likely be a good "stepping stone toward renewed negotiations."