MOSCOW – Since a pro-Russian insurgency flared up in eastern Ukraine in April, international mediators have repeatedly tried to help end hostilities that have killed more than 5,300 people, according to the United Nations. This week, the leaders of France and Germany are in Kiev and Moscow with a proposal to end the fighting. Here is a look at previous key attempts to negotiate a peaceful solution to the crisis:
Top diplomats from Russia, the United States, the European Union and Ukraine met in Geneva on April 17 shortly after rebels seized government buildings in eastern Ukraine following Russia's annexation of Crimea in March.
The negotiations ended with a joint statement calling on all parties to make sure armed groups are disarmed and to free captured government buildings. It also included a call for a comprehensive constitutional reform that would engage representatives of all regions and take their interests into account, but didn't have any reference to Russia's demand that Ukraine remain neutral and not join NATO.
The agreements haven't been implemented, and hostilities in eastern Ukraine quickly escalated.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande helped broker talks between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 6 during the commemorations in Normandy marking the 70th anniversary of the allied invasion.
Putin and Poroshenko spoke in support in favor of a political settlement to end the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine, but fighting escalated in the following months.
Putin and Poroshenko held talks in the Belarusian capital Minsk on August 26 to discuss principles of a peace plan. Following their talks, negotiators from Russia, Ukraine, pro-Russian rebels and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe met in Minsk on Sept. 5 and Sept. 19 to agree on a cease-fire and a set of steps aimed at peaceful settlement.
The Minsk peace plan envisaged the pullback of heavy artillery from a line of division, the release of war prisoners, the withdrawal of foreign fighters, OSCE monitoring of the Russian-Ukrainian border and a degree of autonomy for the east.
Fighting continued, however, as both parties sought to gain more ground and blamed each other for violating the truce. Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of flouting its obligations by failing to withdraw its fighters from Ukraine and stop the flow of weapons and troops across the border. Russia and the rebels in turn accused Ukraine of failing to provide autonomy to the east.
Putin and Poroshenko met again in Milan on October 17 on the sidelines of a Europe-Asia summit.
The two presidents and the EU leaders also focused on settling a gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine that threatened to disrupt supplies to Europe this winter. Putin and Poroshenko reached agreement on the basic guidelines of a gas deal, paving the way for its signing later that month.
During the talks in Milan, The presidents both vowed adherence to the Minsk deal, but failed to bridge differences related to the implementation of the agreement.
With a lull in fighting in December, Poroshenko said he was planning to discuss a peace plan with Putin, Poroshenko and Merkel in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, on Jan. 15. The plan fell through as full-blown fighting resumed in early January with the rebels launching a series of new offensives.
As the hostilities escalated, representatives of Russia, Ukraine, pro-Russian rebels and the OSCE held another round of talks in Minsk on Jan. 31, but the talks brought no results.