Ukraine and Russia have come to a mutual understanding and have agreed on some of the proposals made by Ukraine’s newly-elected President Petro Poroshenko to end the continuing violence in the country's east, but the future of a gas deal remains uncertain.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reportedly said in a statement Monday, according to Reuters, that Russian and Ukrainian representatives met three times over the past two days and discussed ways to bring an end to the violence in the region, which has dramatically escalated in the last few weeks. Officials from both countries, supervised by the European Union, or EU, also met late on Monday, to resolve a dispute over a pending gas bill with Russia’s state-owned Gazprom.
“As a result of the work, the sides reached a mutual understanding on key stages of the implementation of the plan and on a list of priorities which will contribute to a de-escalation of the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine," a statement from Ukraine’s foreign ministry said, according to Reuters.
The latest round of meetings followed interactions between both sides during the World War II commemorations held last week in France, where Russian and Ukrainian officials met along with other leaders from the U.S. and the EU.
However, talks regarding the gas dispute ended Tuesday without a deal being struck, Agence France-Presse, or AFP, reported. In late May, Ukraine’s state oil and gas company Naftogaz paid about 20 percent of $3.5 billion it owes Gazprom for the supply of natural gas.
"All points of the deal were negotiated, and discussions will resume," Guenther Oettinger, EU’s Energy Commissioner, said after talks ended early Tuesday, according to AFP, adding that both sides would now consult their governments to reach a decision.
Although Poroshenko’s plans to restore peace in eastern Ukraine have not been made public, a beginning of dialog between Ukraine and Russia, which is being mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has led to hopes of a resolution to the crisis.
"I believe that the newly chosen Ukrainian president Poroshenko's contacts (with Western leaders) can lead to violence being stopped and internal dialogue beginning," Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja, said, according to Reuters.
Ukraine has reportedly stepped up efforts to reduce tensions in the region through a combination of military operations and negotiations with pro-Russia rebels, who are also reportedly holding hostages to force the government's hand in their fight to secede from Ukraine.
Maria Oliynik, an activist with Ukraine’s rights group Prosvita, reportedly told AFP: “Kidnappings began from the very beginning of the insurgency and today we estimate the number of those being detained illegally at 200.”