What Happened: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said he had a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin after an incident on the line of contact near Mariupol that killed four Ukrainian soldiers, Reuters reported Aug. 7. Zelenskiy also said he called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron to convene a new meeting of the Normandy Four format to help end the conflict.
Why It Matters: Zelenskiy's phone conversation with Putin highlights efforts by the Ukrainian president to establish a direct line of communication with his Russian counterpart to potentially stabilize the volatile situation in eastern Ukraine. However, Putin's decision to facilitate the processing of Russian passports and visas to all residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions after Zelenskiy's inauguration will likely sustain existing tensions.
Background: Small-scale violent exchanges remain a frequent occurrence in eastern Ukraine, although the volume and severity of incidents have remained relatively low.
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