PARIS, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- The leaders of France, Russia, Germany and Ukraine met in Paris Friday for a summit on Ukraine, though Russia's military involvement in Syria threatened to overshadow the talks.
A ceasefire has lasted in Ukraine for over a month and leaders hoped Friday's meeting could lead to a breakthrough in the peace process. Instead, it will likely be an opportunity for French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to question Russian President Vladimir Putin's motives for sending personnel, equipment and warplanes to Syria.
There are suspicions in the West -- including in the United States -- the Russian military buildup is not for its stated purpose, to fight the Islamic state in Syria, but to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
But there has been noticeable progress in Ukraine. Both the Kiev government and the pro-separatist rebels in the east, who are supported by Moscow, have agreed to withdraw additional weapons from the front lines. The current ceasefire is the longest and most successful.
"The decrease in military violence gives a cautious chance for a peaceful resolution. After two, three, four months' break, it would be harder to restart hostilities. That's why it's very important. I think it will give a chance to move to the second stage of negotiations," said Sergei Markedonov of the Russian International Affairs Council.