Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday hailed a summit in Paris on seeking to end the war in the east of Ukraine as an "important step" toward a de-escalation of the conflict.
(From left to right) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a joint news conference after a Normandy-format summit in Paris, France, December 9, 2019. (Photo: CGTN)
Putin was speaking just after midnight local time on Tuesday morning after meeting his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time ever in Paris at a four-way summit of leaders, mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In the first bilateral talks with his Ukrainian counterpart in Paris, Putin said he wanted changes to the Ukrainian constitution to give a special status to the Donbass region.
Hailing the meeting in Paris as useful, Putin said he needed more points of passage between front lines in eastern Ukraine for civilians and the implementation of an amnesty for people involved in the conflict.
Zelensky said Ukraine and Russia had "unblocked" the issue of gas transit and the countries' advisers would work on the details of an agreement.
Putin said gas for Ukraine would be cheaper if both sides worked together.
Ukraine and Russia have been holding negotiations on a new gas transit deal to replace a 10-year agreement that expires at the end of this year. Moscow said last week the transit tariffs proposed by Kiev were too high.
(From left to right) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a joint news conference after a Normandy-format summit in Paris, France, December 9, 2019.
"Many questions were tackled and my counterparts have said it is a very good result for a first meeting. But I will be honest – it is very little, I wanted to resolve a larger number of problems," Zelenskiy said after the talks in Paris.
Macron said on Monday that there remained clear differences between Ukraine and Russia on the calendar for elections in eastern Ukraine, but said they hoped to reach a compromise within four months.
"We know there are disagreements on the calendar and phasing and we had a long discussion on it, but we said let's give ourselves four months to articulate the security and political conditions for these local elections," Macron told a news conference after the summit.
"We saw the differences today. We didn't find the miracle solution, but we have advanced on it."