Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian President, made an official visit to Berlin on Monday.
The implementation of the peace plan in the Ukraine was the top subject of today’s meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel with the Ukrainian head of state against the backdrop of a new president in the White House who wants to improve relations between Washington and Moscow.
The Minsk protocol agreed upon by Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine in September 2014 after months of talks, provides for a ceasefire in the war-torn regions of eastern Ukraine and local elections. But the agreement has not been implemented and the bloodshed between government troops and Moscow-backed separatists continues.
Before meeting the Ukrainian president, Ms. Merkel expressed concern about the situation in the Donbass region, German news agency DPA reported. She said the situation along the contact line, where Ukrainian army troops and pro-Russian rebels face each other, is "worrying" and added that it is important to keep making progress based on the Minsk Agreement "even though this is an arduous path."
There is no alternative to the Minsk agreements. Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian President
Mr. Poroshenko said that Ukraine depended on the support of a united Europe and underlined that sanctions against Russia should not only be extended but tightened.
"Ukraine remains committed to the Minsk agreements, and I stress that there is no alternative to the Minsk agreements," Mr. Poroshenko emphasized during a joint briefing with the German Chancellor.
The Ukrainian head of state also met Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Norbert Lammert, the president of Germany's parliament.
Mr. Poroshenko's visit took place at a time of growing unease in Kiev about Washington's stance on the Ukraine. So far, President Trump had only said he will try to establish friendly relations with Russia. In his statements, he made little mention of Ukraine.
Since Mr. Trump's inauguration, fighting in eastern Ukraine has resumed with new intensity and the separatists have become more aggressive, a spokesman for the Ukrainian defense minister told German broadcaster ARD.
Just one day before Mr. Poroshenko’s visit, the Ukrainian armed forces said four soldiers were killed and five injured on Sunday in the deadliest outbreak of fighting in the east of the country since mid-December.
The army said pro-Russian rebels attacked Ukrainian positions outside of the city of Avdiyivka, north of Donetsk. Two civilians were also injured in shell explosions.
Close to 10,000 people have been killed since fighting between Ukrainian troops and rebels seeking independence from Kiev erupted in April 2014.
Jean-Michel Hauteville is an editor with Handelsblatt Global in Berlin. To contact the author: [email protected].