Ukraine peace plan in limbo after inconclusive talks

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MINSK, Belarus (AP) — A plan for Ukrainian and separatists to pull back their troops and weapons in eastern Ukraine remained in limbo after another round of inconclusive talks Tuesday.

Ukraine’s newly-elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has sought to revive a long-stalled peace plan by pressing for a troop withdrawal and local elections in the nation’s rebel-held east, where a five-year conflict between the separatists and Ukrainian troops has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014.

Zelenskiy has insisted the pullback of troops and an election plan are necessary for calling a summit with leaders of Russia, France and Germany, but he has faced stiff resistance from far-right and ultranationalist groups who call his moves a capitulation to Russia.

Envoys from Russia, Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists failed to come to terms of the troops’ pullback at a Tuesday’s meeting in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

Earlier this month, they have already agreed to withdraw forces in two front-line areas, but the pullback hasn’t occurred because of shelling from both sides and Ukrainian hardliners’ pledge to block the disengagement.

France and Germany brokered a 2015 peace agreement that envisaged a broad autonomy for the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and an amnesty for the rebels — the provisions that were never implemented because it was resented by many In Ukraine.

On Monday, thousands of ultra-right and nationalist activists brandishing red flares and shouting “glory to Ukraine” marched across the Ukrainian capital to protest Zelenskiy’s leadership and his attempts to implement the 2015 deal.

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