Members of the Contact group on the Ukraine crisis left a meeting on the eve of today’s four-way peace summit dashing hopes of a preliminary a ceasefire.
It was a mark of the challenge facing leaders from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany who will try to broker a peace deal in the conflict, which has killed more than 5,000 people.
Last night Vladislav Deinego, representative of the self-proclaimed ‘Luhansk people’s Republic’ put forward his own proposals to end the bloodshed:
“The basis for the project that we have handed over was of a complex nature of military and political measures which may give us a chance of a result for a stable period of time.”
Last September a deal struck in Minsk proposed a 30 kilometre buffer zone between Ukrainian troops and rebel separatists. But it never got off the ground. Since then separatists, whom the West says are backed by Russia, have made substantial territorial gains and won’t want to relinquish them.
There is little optimism in the Belarus capital that any document will be signed today to end the conflict . But hope of a crucial step forward rests on that buffer zone or something like it from which heavy weapons must be withdrawn.