On Nov. 27, U.S. Department of State spokesperson Morgan Ortagus released a statement supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity ahead of Normandy format peace talks among Ukraine, France, Germany, and Russia that will take place on Dec. 9 in Paris.
Ortagus twitted, “We welcome President Zelenskyy’s efforts towards peace, and we reaffirm our unwavering support for #Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) November 27, 2019
“The United States stands with Ukraine as it moves forward with peace negotiations,” says the released statement.
“The United States is committed to working with our Allies and partners to keep pressure on Russia to live up to its commitments under the Minsk agreements and to begin the process of peacefully restoring Ukraine’s full sovereignty over the Donbas.”
The U.S. recognizes that regaining sovereignty over Donbas by Ukraine is “a first step in the full restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, including its territorial waters.”
The statement also acknowledges “prudent but difficult steps towards peace” taken by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Zelensky engaged diplomatically in preparations for the peace process, fostered strengthening of the rule of law, “healthier investment climate, and streamlining Ukraine’s defense sector.” These steps and reforms will contribute to Ukraine’s “long-term security and prosperity,” the statement says.
On Nov. 28, Zelensky had a phone conversation with Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. Both parties discussed preparations for the Dec. 9 Normandy format meeting.
Earlier in November Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko met with his German counterpart Foreign Minister Heiko Maas for preparatory talks to the Normandy summit.
Maas said during the joint press conference with Prystaiko, “We have to end this arbitrary line that divides people—it has already been a reality for too long in this country,” as reported by Deutsche Welle.
“People need a cease-fire, and one that actually deserves its name,” Mass said, according to Deutsche Welle.
The conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed forces has already killed more than 13,000 people.
Before the summit some confidence building measures took place as Russia returned to Ukraine ships that it seized about a year ago, and the two countries exchanged prisoners.
Normandy Format group, consisting of four countries, was created on June 6, 2014 when “France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine leaders met on the margins of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day allied landings in Normandy,” with the aim to resolve the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and implement the Minsk II cease-fire agreement, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).