The foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia, as well as France and Germany, met in Berlin on Wednesday for talks aimed at defusing the conflict in Ukraine.
Emerging from the talks, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said "noticeable progress" had been made about the withdrawal of heavy weapons in accordance with a September agreement. However, he said, there was still no breakthrough.
Steinmeier said the so-called "contact group," which includes rebel leaders from the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, would be meeting in the coming days to work out the details and timeline for the weapons withdrawal.
In a joint statement released by the German foreign ministry, the ministers noted "with serious concern" that fighting in eastern Ukraine had severely escalated, causing the loss of many human lives including civilians.
Meanwhile rebels in Ukraine have taken over Donetsk Airport, killing dozens of Ukrainian troops.
Ukrainian troops’ defense of the airport, besieged since September, had become a symbol of pride for Ukrainians, with its occupants immortalized as 'the cyborgs'.