On December 13, the Valdai Discussion Club hosted an expert discussion on the results of the Normandy Four summit; in attendance was Andrei Rudenko, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation.
On December 9, the leaders of the Normandy Four countries - Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany - arrived in Paris for the first summit after a three-year break. According to Andrei Rudenko, each leader came to Paris with his own vision of the situation. The discussion was frank, and all aspects of the Minsk agreements were discussed. The objective of the Ukrainian delegation, probably, was to alter the set of measures prescribed in the Minsk agreements. Russia sought to leave these unchanged.
One can talk about who won and who lost during this summit. The Ukrainian leadership believes that there was a draw. However, the modest expectations of the Russian delegation from this meeting were justified: a confirmation was received from the President of Ukraine that the process specified in the Minsk agreements would be followed, and steps were taken to implement them. This is clearly confirmed in the final document. Ukraine failed to “ruin” the Minsk-II. And this is a good result.
Following the summit, a joint communique was adopted and an agreement was reached to meet in Berlin in four months to continue work on resolving the situation in Donbass. In particular, the communiqué stresses the need to exchange detained persons “all for all”, a ceasefire on the territory of Donbass by the end of 2019, as well as the preparation of a mine clearance plan for eastern Ukraine and the continuation of the separation of forces and weapons in three new areas.
As for the agreement between the leaders of the Normandy format to meet again in four months, there may be options. Andrei Rudenko recalled that there have already been precedents for meetings being postponed. “We’ll see how everything goes; the situation is really quite unpredictable,” Rudenko said.