Ukraine peace talks to resume this week

The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany have reached an agreement to hold a new round of peace talks on Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said after speaking by phone with his French, Russian and German counterparts that the negotiations will be held in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, Wednesday and Friday.

Previous talks in September led to a tenuous peace agreement, although fighting has continued in eastern Ukraine. The agreement, signed in Minsk, succeeded in stemming the worst fighting, but it has been repeatedly broken by both sides, resulting in at least 1,300 more deaths.

Also Monday, Kazakstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev visited Kyiv and held talks with Poroshenko, before flying to Moscow and meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Nazarbayev described the conflict in Ukraine as “nonsense” and called on both nations to find a way to resolve it.

“I call on Russia and Ukraine to think about finding a compromise in order to overcome this situation, by preserving the territorial integrity of Ukraine and bring together their positions,” he said. “Because the current situation is nonsense, it is not normal. I hope Ukraine will get stronger by overcoming this situation. ”

This week’s peace talks will be held in Belarus, a close ally of Russia and a solid friend of Ukraine.

Belarus hosted major negotiations between an international contact group in its capital, Minsk, in September that produced deals on a cease-fire and partial self-rule for the two mostly Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine that rebelled against Kyiv in April.

The Kyiv government, the European Union and the United States accuse Moscow of stoking violence in Ukraine and arming pro-Russian separatists seeking autonomy near the Russian border.  Moscow denies arming rebels.