Ukrainian Protest Pressures Zelensky on Talks With Putin

Four nations plan summit this week on ending war
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 8, 2019 10:55 AM CST
Ukrainians Demand Zelensky Stand Up to Putin
Activists sing the national anthem Sunday in Kyiv during a demonstration ahead of a summit this week.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Several thousand people rallied Sunday in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv to demand that the president defend the country's interests in this week's summit with Russia, Germany and France on ending the war in eastern Ukraine. Many Ukrainians are concerned that President Volodymyr Zelensky, a political novice, could be outmaneuvered by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit on Monday in Paris, the AP reports. Zelensky is eager to make progress on ending the war with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has killed some 14,000 people since 2014. Russia wants to use the summit to increase pressure on Zelensky to fulfill the 2015 Minsk peace accord, which gives the rebel-held regions more autonomy in exchange for ending the fighting. Germany and France helped to broker that 2015 deal, but it has been repeatedly ignored.

In Kyiv's Independence Square, demonstrators held banners reading "No compromises!" and "No surrender!" Petro Poroshenko, Zelensky's predecessor, called for the protest, per AFP. "Don't believe Putin after all the bad things he did for Ukraine," Poroshenko said, addressing Zelensky: "Don't be afraid of Putin!" One protester said: “For five years now, war has been going on in Ukraine, we are very tired. ... But Putin can take advantage of this fatigue, and we do not need peace at all costs." Another said, "I am afraid the interests of my country will be betrayed." A spokeswoman said Zelensky would make tough demands at the summit Monday.

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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