‘Kiev-Donbass dialogue necessary for conflict settlement’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Moscow, Dec 26 (IANS) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said any progress in the settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine is only possible through direct dialogue between Kiev and Donbass.

“We are ready to contribute in every possible way,” Lavrov was quoted as saying in an interview with TASS news agency posted on the foreign ministry’s website on Thursday, Xinhua reported.

He said that the establishment of lasting peace in Ukraine is in line with Russia’s interests and would have a positive effect on the relations between Moscow and Kiev.

Lavrov praised the determination of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to reach a speedy end to the hostilities in Donbass as he managed to do in his five-month presidency what his predecessor “stubbornly refused to do for years”.

Lavrov said it was possible for the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany to meet in Paris on December 9 when they confirmed that there was no alternative to the Minsk agreements on the settlement in Ukraine.

The Minsk agreements, reached in September 2014 and February 2015, respectively, envisage a ceasefire, a withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the demarcation line, a prisoner exchange and local elections, among other measures.

Now, it is important to ensure the implementation of these agreements, although this will not be simple, Lavrov said.

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