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Ukraine: Germany's Maas heads to Kyiv on peace mission

Ukraine: Germany's Maas heads to Kyiv on peace mission

The German foreign minister is hoping to speed along a peace process emerging in the turbulent east of Ukraine. The current cease-fire there has held for nearly month, the longest since in 2014.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas departed for Ukraine on Monday to lend Germany's support to a fragile peace process emerging in Ukraine's conflict-ridden east.

"We want to move forward faster in the Minsk process — that's why I'm travelling to Kyiv today, Maas said in a Foreign Ministry statement released before his departure.

"The cease-fire that has lasted for over four weeks is the longest since 2014 and that is a hopeful sign. We want to build on that," he added.

Maas will meet with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba, President Volodymry Zelenskiy and Prime Minister Denys Shymyhal.

German-Ukrainian cooperation in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and reform projects of the Ukrainian government are also on the agenda.

History of failed cease-fires
There have been over 20 attempts at a ceasefire in Ukraine since early 2014, when conflict broke out in the country's east over a political swing away from Russia — and towards the EU — that ousted the country's pro-Kremlin president.

Shortly after, Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that over 100 violations had taken place within days of the latest ceasefire attempt in July.

Germany, along with France, has previously mediated talks between Ukraine and Russia, which represents the Ukrainian rebels despite denying direct involvement in the conflict. Most recently, the EU countries brokered talks in December 2019, ahead of the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Minsk peace agreement.

Zelenskiy, in power since last year, rejects the agreement's demand that the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, near the Russian border, be granted more independence.

The conflict betwee Ukrainian troops  and Russian-backed rebels  has killed over 13,000 people since 2014.

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