Putin and Merkel discussed the situation in Donbass

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a telephone conversation during which they discussed the conflict in Donbas. This was reported on Thursday, April 8, the press service of the Kremlin.

The Russian leader drew Merkel’s attention to Kiev’s provocative actions in the region and the escalation of the situation on the line of contact.

She also stressed the need for the Ukrainian side to strictly implement earlier agreements on the establishment of direct dialogue with Donetsk and Luhansk and the legal registration of the special status of Donbass.

“A call for restraint and activation of the negotiation process in order to fully implement the 2015 Minsk ‘Package of Measures’ as the non-alternative basis for a settlement is addressed to the parties to the conflict,” the statement noted.

The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further close coordination of efforts of the two countries, including in the Normandy format, through the political councils and foreign ministries.

In addition, views were exchanged during the meeting on the Syrian issue. In particular, they noted the priority nature of the tasks to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria. The leaders also welcomed the formation of central authorities in Libya for a transition period. Putin and Merkel expressed readiness to promote the normalization of the situation and peaceful development in this country.

The Kremlin press service added that the situation in the Balkans was raised during the dialogue, and in connection with Merkel’s interest the situation with blogger Alexei Navalny was also touched upon.

At Putin’s initiative a number of issues concerning the activities of foreign media and non-governmental organizations in both countries were also discussed.

The day before, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Denis Pushilin said that the situation at the line of contact in Donbass had deteriorated. He stressed that the number of shelling since the beginning of this year had almost doubled compared to the last quarter of last year. The Kiev authorities, on the other hand, believe that Ukraine is pursuing a political and diplomatic path in resolving the conflict in the region, Pushylin added.

On the same day, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that statements by the Ukrainian side and Western countries that Russia was allegedly to blame for the escalation of tension in Donbass were misinformation and propaganda. In addition, she pointed out that it was Kyiv that was building up its forces in Donbas, while NATO was strengthening in the Black Sea region.

At the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is currently in Donbas on a working visit. It was specified that he arrived in the region to “support the fighting spirit of defenders.