Summit participants arrive in Minsk

Participants in the "Normandy format" summit are coming to the Palace of Independence in Minsk.

Participants in the "Normandy format" summit are coming to the Palace of Independence in Minsk.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was the first to arrive in the Belarusian president's residence.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko met Poroshenko in the palace. The presidents warmly greeted each other and headed inside the palace.

Some time later, Lukashenko retuned to the entrance to greet the leaders of France and Germany, who arrived after Poroshenko. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande entered the hall of the palace together. Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Minsk later.

An agreement about a possible meeting of the "Normandy quartet" was reached during a telephone conversation between the four leaders on February 8.

The leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, have also arrived in Minsk in order to sign a peace agreement if a planned "Normandy format" meeting in the Belarusian capital on Wednesday is successful, a source told Interfax.

"If the negotiations between the 'Normandy Four' leaders are a success, the leaders of the DPR and LPR plan to put their signatures on the final document," the source said.

 Interfax has been unable to obtain official confirmation, but Russian television's First Channel has also said Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky are in Minsk.

On February 5, Hollande and Merkel, having prepared their peace plans, visited Kiev and met with Poroshenko and then travelled to Moscow for a tete-a-tete meeting with Putin, which lasted for five hours.

According to the Russia's Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov, the future of the EU sanctions against Russia, as well as possible subsequent restrictive measures will depend on the results of the Minsk summit. "Everything now is hanging in a balance, everything is locked up on the outcome of today's Minsk meeting," he told the Rossiya-24 television channel.


Read more: Lavrov’s Munich speech: What does it mean for the Ukraine crisis?

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