• Lack of progress in weapons withdrawal and organizing election
  • Putin disappears without making a statement as Syria dominates

The cease-fire between Ukrainian forces and Russian separatists in the east of the country is holding even though the lack of progress in withdrawing weapons and organizing elections means a year-end deadline for full implementation of the Minsk peace accords will slide.

This was the assessment French President Francois Hollande delivered at a news conference after a meeting in Paris with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

“There are fewer victims and the protagonists are talking, so progress is being made,” Hollande said. “Minsk has a calendar, and it has steps that must be done one after the other. The ceasefire took longer than planned and so did the arms withdrawals.”

Here is the state of play: De-mining operations and the removal of arms will resume this weekend; a law allowing elections in the separatist-occupied east of the country to be held under Ukrainian law won’t be ready in time for a 2015 vote and withdrawal of light-weapons will take 41 days.

The coming together of the “Normandy Quartet” -- so called because the first meeting using this format took place at a D-Day celebration in 2014 -- seeks to keep pressure on the key players to end an 18-month conflict that has killed more than 8,000 people. 

Hollande said he also wants international observers to have full access to the Russia-Ukraine border, without saying what was Putin’s response. The Russian leader left without making any public comments. The next appointment to keep the peace process on track will be early November, with a meeting of foreign ministers.

Merkel was philosophical: "We achieved what we could today."

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