Den quotes Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center Director John Herbst on Russian, French, and German stances on the conflict in Ukraine after their meeting in Paris:

“Mr. Putin continued his charm offensive in Paris. This offensive began with the sharp drop in firings across the ceasefire line three and a half weeks ago. It continued in Paris as Mr. Putin agreed to the withdrawal of Russian weapons, to the notion that the elections in the LNR and DNR should take place after Ukraine adopts the constitutional law on decentralization, and to OSCE monitor access to everywhere in the east. As a result, the French and German leaders said that talks were positive, although no issues have been resolved. Mr. Putin’s aim seems to be to persuade the Europeans that he is doing what is required under Minsk agreements in order to persuade them to lift, or ease sanctions in January.

“Still it is not clear that the Kremlin will meet its Minsk obligations. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin will send an envoy to LNR and DNR leaders advising that they postpone the elections set for October 18 and November 1. Moscow is still maintaining the fiction that it does not have a decisive voice in the DNR and LNR. If the leaders reject this ‘advice,’ it will be clear that Moscow is not willing to do the necessary under Minsk agreements. Even President Hollande has said that if these elections proceed, it will be a major blow to Minsk. But if the elections are postponed, and if Moscow truly withdraws its military equipment and OSCE monitors have free run in Kremlin controlled territory – these would be significant steps good for Ukraine. Recognizing this, I do not think that the Paris talks were largely a matter of Merkel and Hollande pressing Poroshenko for concessions.

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Related Experts: John E. Herbst