What is the future of the “Normandy Format”?

Recently Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has given a press conference to mark one year since his inauguration where one of the main aspects he focused on was the future of the Normandy Four meeting. He noted that the peace talks in the framework of the Normandy Format will resume as soon as the coronavirus pandemic subsides. He also added that Ukraine will follow the Minsk agreements as long as possible. But if such format becomes ineffective, Ukrainian leaders will find other ways to stop the war in the Western part of Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelensky even confirmed his readiness to hold direct negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We have to reach agreements” – said Ukrainian leader.

On April 30, the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany have held a video conference in the Normandy format where the parties discussed security issues, achieving complete ceasefire and access for the OSCE SMM representatives to the uncontrolled territories of Donbas.

Following the outcome of the conference, the foreign ministers of France and Germany stressed on the humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine, especially in the light of COVID‑19 pandemic, and the necessity to work on it. They welcome some progress achieved since the last meeting in Paris (such as prisoners exchange), but insisted on the full implementation of the Minsk agreements by Ukraine and Russia.

The foreign ministers of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia agreed to hold next talks in a month with the aim of preparing conditions for a summit of the Normandy Four leaders.

Ukrainian partners from the United States and the EU express their willingness to join the efforts in order to restore peace in Ukrainian Donbas. In this context, ex-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor assumed the expanding of the Normandy Format to Normandy plus, including the US, if the current format doesn’t work.

Russia, in its term, is outspokenly critical of the U.S. involvement in the negotiation process. It also continues to accuse Ukraine of not following the Minsk Agreements and denies any implication in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Even though the future of the Normandy Format is vague, there is a hope that the parties involved will come to a consensus and try to do their best to stop the endless bloodshed in Donbas.

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