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September 20, 2017

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Putin to attend Berlin summit on Ukraine

PARIS--Russian President Vladimir Putin heads to Berlin on Wednesday for a summit on Ukraine amid tensions between Moscow and Europe over Russia's role in Ukraine as well as Syria.

The meeting between the Russian, German, French and Ukrainian leaders will "evaluate the implementation" of the Minsk peace accords for Ukraine, the French presidency said Tuesday.

Putin's first visit to Berlin since the Ukraine conflict broke out in 2014 will come the day before the 28 leaders of the European Union are due to discuss relations with Russia including sanctions over Ukraine, which come up for renewal at the end of the year.

The EU summit in Brussels is also expected to discuss Russia's role in Syria, which sparked a furious row between Russia and France last week that prompted Putin to cancel a visit to Paris.

Wednesday's Ukraine summit will also "discuss the next steps in the process towards ending the crisis in eastern Ukraine," a statement said Tuesday.

The summit, set in a flurry of telephone consultations, will be the first since a Paris meeting in October 2015 under the so-called "Normandy Format" grouping the four countries.

French President Francois Hollande last week called on all parties in the Ukraine conflict to draw up a roadmap to end the crisis.

The aim would be to help Ukraine regain control of its borders with Russia, he said after speaking by telephone with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Hollande had spoken Wednesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Putin about organizing a summit on the conflict.

Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, backs a separatist, pro-Moscow insurgency in eastern Ukraine that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives.

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