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Is peace possible in Ukraine? Key leaders meet to find out
By Laura Smith-Spark and Nic Robertson, CNN
Minsk, Belarus (CNN) Four key leaders converged on Belarus' capital Wednesday with one official mission: bringing peace to Ukraine.
Whether they can achieve that is unsure, considering the violence, bitter divisions and failed negotiations. Still, the fact that French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin made the trip to Minsk to talk peace is notable.
The stakes are high. Not only has war raged for months in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels angry about political upheaval in Kiev have declared their independence, but it's getting worse, threatening not only the lives of more civilians, but the stability of the region.
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting Wednesday before his arrival in Minsk, Poroshenko called the summit "the most important one so far I have had as a President," Ukraine's state-run Ukrinform news agency reported.
The President said he and Ukraine's lawmakers were ready to introduce martial law across the country if "further irresponsible actions" lead to more escalation of the conflict.
"It will depend on the results of the summit whether we stop the aggressor through diplomatic means or go to a totally different regime," he is quoted as saying.
Video showed Denis Pushilin of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Vladislav Deinego of the Luhansk People's Republic at the talks, speaking with reporters in Minsk on Tuesday night, putting to rest earlier doubts about their attendance.
Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also attended the preliminary meeting.
That set the stage for the main event involving Hollande, Merkel, Poroshenko and Putin that began Wednesday night in Belarus' Palace of Independence.