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Normandy format: German estimate

A view from Germany regarding the outcome of the Paris summit: Merkel is "really pleased", Zelensky "rather not"

Normandy format: German estimate

It would be naive to expect that the last Normandy format meeting in Paris involving the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, France and the German Chancellor will cause an unambiguous reaction with local observers in Germany. The fact is that in these latter days, the general favorable background for Ukraine began to change markedly to a more critical approach. At the same time, Russia's previously negative assessments began to gradually erode, primarily due to the statements by the eastern federal states' Prime Ministers and representatives of German business, advocating the relief or lifting of EU sanctions against Russia.

At the end of the day, all of this has an economic background. The economy, primarily of East Germany has been suffering significant losses due to anti-Russian sanctions for years, while the European Union, pouring billions of euros to support Ukraine, Germany included, scratches its head in disappointment, when facing the corrupt dexterity of Ukrainian partners. And Europe's patience with Ukraine's thriving radical nationalism is clearly running low. In general, assessments by local observers of the Normandy format meeting held after a three-year break, appeared quite balanced, although not without the traditional statements like "Putin seeks to divide Ukraine", and "the key to the conflict in Ukraine still lies in the Kremlin."

At that, those who hoped that the recent expulsion of Russian diplomats from Berlin on trumped-up charges of involvement in the murder of a Chechen fighter of Georgian origin will somehow negatively affect the outcome of the Paris meeting, were disappointed either. In this regard, the headline "The summit on Ukraine worked out and failed at the same time" on the website of Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) looks rather indicative. Tellingly, further in the text the author repeats this phrase but with a question mark at the end.

RND regards as positive the fact that the long negotiation pause has finally come to an end and that prospects for a better life of the Donbass population are designated even before the new year, namely the ceasefire on the line of contact, mine clearing, the creation of new entry points for civilians, the improvement of OSCE truce control opportunities. At the same time, the "failure" of the current Paris summit is seen in the fact that deeper problems remain unresolved as to who will have the last word in the East of Ukraine – Kiev or Moscow, what will take place before – local elections and then negotiations on a special status for Donbass or vice versa?

German observers note that Vladimir Zelensky wants Ukraine to first ensure control over its border, with local elections to be held only after that, which "contradicts Vladimir Putin's opinion." Even after the meeting in Paris it remains absolutely unclear how to reconcile these opposing stances. Yes, they are talking to each other again, but a specific political outcome remains to be expected, the RND analyst concludes. At the same time, many of his colleagues in the German media do not forget to emphasize that an agreement has been reached on an all-for-all exchange of prisoners between Kiev and Donbass before the end of this year.

The author did not overlook the words by his Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said she was satisfied with the results of the Paris summit on Ukraine. "We have overcome the silence, " "agreed on real things" and will certainly "keep working in this direction," various local media quoted the head of their government as saying. For instance, drew attention to the positive assessment of the summit by Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, who once again urged Kiev into dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk, noting Vladimir Zelensky was unsatisfied with summit results.

"My colleagues told me this was a pretty good result for the first meeting. But, frankly speaking, it's not enough for me," quotes the President of Ukraine. At that, when touching upon the ceasefire, Zelensky admitted he still did not know how to control the situation, but hoped it would be possible this time. In this regard, the German media remind that such agreements have been violated two dozen times since 2014. Moreover, Zelensky's mood is certainly spoiled by radical nationalists at home, who threaten him in every possible way if he crosses some red lines and betrays the interests of Ukraine, the German media write.

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