BERLIN, July 14 (RIA Novosti) - The so-called "contact group" on the Ukrainian crisis is planning to hold a video conference with armed militia leaders in East Ukraine on Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Monday.
A statement by the ministry cited Steinmeier as saying that the group, which includes Russian, Ukrainian and OSCE officials, “will make a strong effort not later than tomorrow to establish a direct contact with representatives of the militia via video conference call.
Steinmeier also said the group will discuss a venue for a direct meeting with the militia leaders as soon as possible.
The German foreign minister held a conference call on Monday with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and Chief of the Russian Presidential Administration Sergei Ivanov.
Earlier Sunday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks entirely devoted to the issues of Ukraine. The two leaders noted the need to resume the work of the contact group, possibly through the means of a video conference, and called for a ceasefire and a prisoner exchange.
Last week, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said Kiev does not exclude the possibility of establishing contacts with independence supporters in the southeast of the country via videoconferencing without mediators.
Two rounds of trilateral talks between the representatives of people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk and Kiev officials were held in June, when a contact group, including Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, two OSCE officials and former Ukrainian President Mikhail Kuchma, met to discuss possible de-escalation of the situation in Donbas.
On July 1, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced the end of a ceasefire in the southeast of the country. Soon after that, government troops opened artillery fire on Slaviansk and Kramatorsk, saying there will be no peace talks until independence supporters lay down their arms.