Russia has indicated it is ready to open the so-called ‘Normandy’ negotiation format over the crisis in eastern Ukraine to the United States, which appears to be a major shift in relations between Moscow and Washington after the election of Donald Trump.
The so-called ‘Normandy format’ was set up after French President François Hollande gathered the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and host country France around one table, on the 70th anniversary of the Allied D-Day landings that helped turn the tide during World War Two.
A series of meetings in this format were held, notably those that produced the Minsk agreements (see background).
France and Germany have taken a cautious stance to expanding the Normandy format, while Moscow has never refused to discuss the situation, Russia’s ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told the Rossiya 24 TV channel yesterday (2 March).
He noted that the idea of expanding the Normandy format is not something entirely new.
“Paris and Berlin are jealous about it,” he noted. “Russia has never refused to discuss the situation in Ukraine, including with the United States.”
The EU is excluded from the Normandy format, largely because of the hawkish positions of some members states, including Poland.
— RussianMissionEU (@RusMission_EU) March 2, 2017
The leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine (the so-called Normandy format) gave their support to a deal to end fighting in eastern Ukraine, following 17-hour long negotiations in the Belarussian capital Minsk on 12 February.
The four leaders committed to respecting Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to a joint declaration.
Western leaders are closely observing the implementation of the Minsk agreement.
On 2 March 2015, European leaders said that they agreed that the OSCE needed a broader role as observers of the ceasefire, and weapons removal.
On 2 October 2015, the leaders of the Normandy format admitted that it would take time to organise elections in Ukraine that respect international standards and as a result, the so-called Minsk peace process would run into next year.