Russia, Ukraine leaders in Paris for crunch talks on ending war

Paris, Dec 9 (AFP/APP): Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Paris for summit talks Monday seen as a critical opportunity to take steps to end five years of conflict in the east of Ukraine.

No comprehensive peace deal is expected from the meeting — mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — but diplomats hope the summit will help to bolster trust between the two men.

They were to hold talks individually with the EU’s two key leaders before a four-way summit, followed by a hotly-awaited bilateral between wily ex-KGB agent Putin, in power for two decades, and ex-comedian Zelensky who won the presidency this year.

Thousands have been killed and one million have fled their homes since pro-Russia militias in eastern Ukraine launched a bid for independence in 2014 — kicking off a conflict that deepened Russia’s estrangement from the West.

The separatists seized control of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions shortly after Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

Putin and Zelensky in first talks to revive Ukraine peace efforts

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