January 20, 2015 / 3:12 PM / in 4 years

New round of peace talks on Ukraine set for Wednesday: Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) - A new round of peace talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine will be held in Berlin on Wednesday evening with the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France taking part, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

“We’re faced with a threatening situation again due to new fighting flaring up in eastern Ukraine in recent days,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Steinmeier said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin had asked him to invite them to talks in Berlin again after several days of intensive discussions in which they tried to find political compromises.

“We now need to prevent military confrontations from intensifying any more and avoid further political escalation between Kiev and Moscow. That’s worth every effort,” Steinmeier said.

After a similar meeting of foreign ministers in Berlin last Monday, the four countries called off a proposed leaders’ summit because of a lack of progress in implementing the Minsk peace plan, which was agreed in September.

The war between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels broke out soon after Russia annexed Crimea last year, creating the worst crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War. Western governments accuse Russia of backing the rebels, including by sending in troops, a charge Moscow denies.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Kremlin said increased military activity by Ukrainian government forces had undermined hopes of arranging a four-way summit, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.

Reporting by Stephen Brown and Sabine Siebold; writing by Erik Kirschbaum and Michelle Martin; Editing by Crispian Balmer

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