Hollande calls for more progress in Ukraine

French President Francois Hollande has agreed to further steps in putting last month's Ukraine ceasefire accords into action on Monday evening in a phone conversation with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko.

Hollande calls for more progress in Ukraine
An instructor of the Ukrainian volunteer Azov Battalion conducts training exercises in Kiev. Photo: AFP
"There has been progress, but the situation needs to be improved," Hollande's office said in a statement on Monday. 
The four leaders were happy with progress in the ceasefire between the warring parties in Ukraine and the withdrawal of heavy artillery from the front lines, Merkel's office said in a statement.
They agreed on the need for the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) to play a greater role in supervising the ceasefire and requested daily reports on its progress.
The leaders were also united on the urgent need for prisoner exchanges and for the provision of humanitarian aid through the Red Cross.
Once those first steps have been taken, the next step of the ceasefire agreement struck in Minsk last month will come into effect, with working groups put together to tackle further challenges.
One of the first of those will be the organization of regional elections in the Lugansk and Donetsk areas controlled by the rebels.
Senior diplomats from all four countries will meet at the foreign ministry in Berlin on Friday to continue the talks.
France and Germany have led the way in pushing for the truce deal in a bid to end the 10-month conflict that has claimed some 5,500 lives.

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Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have met the Ukrainian president in Kyiv, after the trio travelled overnight by train from Poland.

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

The three leaders left in the early hours of Thursday, arriving into Kyiv on Thursday morning. After a visit to the heavily-bombed town of Irpin, they met Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

It is the first time that the leaders of the three European Union countries have visited Kyiv since Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine, and the visit comes as Kyiv is pushing for membership of the EU.

Macron has been paying a two-day visit to Romania and Moldova to discuss the ongoing crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There had been widespread speculation in France that he would combine the trip with a visit to Zelensky in Ukraine, but this was not confirmed until Thursday morning.

In a joint press conference with Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, Macron reiterated his desire that Ukraine should win the war, but added that eventually negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will be necessary.