German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said “no miracles” were achieved on the Ukraine crisis, but talks with the country’s leader and his Russian and French counterparts did lead to some progress on ending a deadlock in the peace process.
After a five-hour summit billed as “difficult,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said all sides had agreed to draw up a roadmap for applying the frayed Minsk peace accords following months of impasse.
“Between now and the end of November we have to approve a roadmap. It will be a document on the implementation of all the Minsk accords,” he said at a news conference after the Berlin gathering, according to Russian news agencies.
Merkel said at a separate press conference that the talks “didn’t achieve miracles,” but that progress was made “with the creation of a so-called roadmap.”
“There’s much work left to do,” she said, flanked by French President Francois Hollande.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, on his first visit to Berlin since the conflict erupted, stressed that the Minsk accords remained the best path toward a lasting resolution to war in eastern Ukraine.
The roadmap agreed to in Berlin will be now be further thrashed out and discussed by the countries’ foreign ministers, the leaders said.
“You have to respect the successive steps of the Minsk accords,” Hollande told reporters.
Putin had not visited Berlin since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, sending relations with the West plunging to their lowest point since the Cold War.
Russia backs a separatist, pro-Moscow insurgency in eastern Ukraine that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives on both sides.
It denies accusations that it has sent troops and weapons across its border with Ukraine.
The Minsk accords, signed in February last year with French and German mediation, call for a ceasefire along with a range of political, economic and social measures to end the conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels.
While the accords reduced the intensity of fighting, they have failed to stop it.
On a key sticking point — the issue of holding possible local elections in rebel-run regions, Poroshenko said no polls could take place without “the unconditional withdrawal of foreign armed forces.”
Putin for his part wants partial autonomy for rebel-held parts of eastern Ukraine like Donbass and Lugansk, while Kiev wants reassurances that fair and free elections would be held there.
None of the four leaders meeting in Berlin had expected a breakthrough, but Germany and France had argued that it was important to return to the negotiating table more than a year after the Minsk agreements were signed.
Putin, speaking separately to reporters after the talks, confirmed that the four were in favor of widening the role of the European OSCE observer mission.
Poroshenko said that meant an agreement had been reached on deploying an armed OSCE mission to the east.
Putin, who wants to assure the supply of provisions to rebel regions, said the talks had focused heavily on security matters, but on humanitarian issues “we unfortunately didn’t make much progress.”
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative