Normandy meeting underway for 12 hours in Minsk

12 February 2015 08:52
(QHA) -

A tense summit in Minsk between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France dragged on through the night and into the morning of February 12 as they wrangled over a plan to end 10 months of fighting in eastern Ukraine.
The meeting in the Belarusian capital is being attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Francois Hollande.

By 0800 local time (0600 Prague time) the talks held at the opulent presidential palace in Minsk had gone beyond the 12-hour mark.

Reuters quoted an unnamed diplomatic source as saying the four leaders will sign a document on solving the conflict. The source would not provide details of the nature of the document. 

Before the four-way talks began, Poroshenko was quoted as saying they were the last chance to end the conflict.

According to the Interfax news agency, he said: "Either there is deescalation, a cease-fire, and a withdrawal of heavy weapons, or the situation gets out of control." 

Here's a look at key sticking points in a possible deal, per the AP:

-- Drawing a new line of division: Ukraine wants the same one that was agreed upon in September, while Russia wants a new line that reflects rebels' significant territorial gains since then.

-- Withdrawing Russian troops and equipment from eastern Ukraine: Russia says it does not have any troops and military hardware in the east, a stance scoffed at by Ukraine and NATO.

-- Securing the Ukraine-Russian border: Ukraine wants to get control back over its border with Russia to stem the flow of Russian fighters and weapons, while Russia says that's up to the rebels.

-- Giving the separatists more autonomy: Ukraine says it may offer them broad rights on the basis of the Ukrainian law, but Russia wants guarantees. Russia also wants Ukraine to end its financial blockade of the east.