The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine will meet in Berlin to discuss a possible cease-fire as tensions continued to escalate over the rebellious eastern region of Ukraine.
The Guardian reports that Russia’s Pavlo Klimkin and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov will discuss a resolution to the ongoing crisis. Foreign ministers of Germany and France will also attend.
“It is all about finding a roadmap towards a sustainable ceasefire and a framework for effective border controls,” Frank-Walter-Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, said in a statement reported by The Guardian. “Only in this way can eastern Ukraine calm down and Kiev continue a national dialogue that appropriately involves the people in the east.”
En route to the meeting, Klimkin tweeted that tightening the border and ending Russian support of the rebels in eastern Ukraine was a priority.
GearUp for Berlin. Important to close down the border and stop inflow of arms and mercenaries from Russia.
— Pavlo Klimkin (@PavloKlimkin) August 17, 2014
As we reported earlier Sunday, a Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down over the eastern city of Luthansk, where government forces have staged a major campaign. The New York Times reported that the Ukrainian military had entered the city center by the end of the day Sunday:
Ukrainian officials said army units had raised the national flag over a police station in central Luhansk, the eastern city that, along with Donetsk, has been a center of rebel activity and an important destination for Russian fighters and aid. Other parts of Luhansk, however, were still said to be under rebel control.
That claim, however, had yet to be verified independently.
Reports Friday of a Russian military convoy entering the eastern part of Ukraine, ostensibly tied to aid promised earlier in the week, have yet to be confirmed. At the time, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that Russian military forces had crossed the border and that Ukrainian troops had engaged.
The latest developments come as the sanctions war between Moscow and the West has escalated over the past month following the shooting down of a Malaysian passenger airliner over eastern Ukraine. The United States and its European allies have steadily tightened sanctions on Russia’s economy and individuals tied to President Vladimir Putin, while Putin hit back by barring the import of meat and agricultural products from Europe and the U.S.
The Times also reports that the separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko claimed that the rebels would be receiving reinforcements from Russia in the form of 1,200 soldiers and 150 armored vehicles.
But a spokesman for Putin said Sunday that “we have said repeatedly that no equipment is being supplied there.”
Still, concern has been growing that should the Ukrainian military continue to gain ground in the east, Russia may make a more overt move should the cease-fire talks in Berlin fail.