Factbox: Ukraine, Russia leaders to meet in Paris for peace talks

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Factbox: Ukraine, Russia leaders to meet in Paris for peace talks

Russian President Putin listens during annual news conference in Moscow

(Reuters) - The presidents of Ukraine and Russia will meet in Paris next Monday to discuss a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and the exchange of prisoners but diplomats see little chance of a breakthrough.

The talks between Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Vladimir Putin, also to be attended by the French and German leaders, follow a slight easing in tensions, but Kiev and Moscow remain far apart on how to end a conflict that has killed over 13,000 people.

Here are key dates and events that have shaped relations between Ukraine and Russia over the past six years.

November 2013 - Ukraine's Moscow-backed president, Viktor Yanukovich, suddenly announces suspension of trade and association talks with the European Union in favour of stronger economic ties with Russia. His decision prompts months of mass rallies in Kiev.

February, 2014 - Ukraine's parliament votes to remove Yanukovich, who flees to Russia. Armed men seize regional government and parliament in Ukraine's Crimea region, which has a majority ethnic Russian population and is home to Russia's Black Sea fleet, and raise the Russian flag.

March, 2014 - Crimea's parliament votes to join the Russian Federation in decision backed overwhelmingly by voters in a March 16 referendum. Ukraine's forces are evicted from the peninsula. Western nations slap economic sanctions on Russia and eject it from the Group of Eight leading industrialised powers.

April, 2014 - Armed pro-Russian separatists seize control of state buildings in eastern Ukrainian provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, in the heavily industrialised Donbass region, and declare independence. Moscow denies orchestrating the militants.

May, 2014 - Wealthy businessman Petro Poroshenko wins Ukraine's presidential election with a pro-Western agenda and pledges to regain control of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Fighting between Kiev's forces and the separatists escalates. Russia builds up forces near its border with eastern Ukraine and claims right to intervene to protect Russian-speakers there.

July, 2014 - A missile downs Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over an area of eastern Ukraine held by the rebels, killing all 298 people on board. The weapon used was traced back by investigators to Russia, but Moscow denies any involvement.

September, 2014 - Representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the two self-declared 'people's republics' of Donetsk and Luhansk sign the Minsk Protocol, an agreement aimed at halting the conflict in the Donbass region. Over the coming five years various ceasefires will be agreed under the terms of the protocol and then violated.

July, 2017 - Ukraine and the European Union conclude an association agreement on closer trade and political ties. But the EU also warns Kiev that rampant corruption is undermining its efforts to move closer to European norms and makes clear Ukraine is still far from full EU membership.

November, 2018 - Russia's coast guard fires on and then seizes three Ukrainian naval vessels attempting to pass from the Black Sea to the Azov Sea on their way to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol. Tensions escalate and Poroshenko briefly declares martial law in the region. The EU, the United States and Canada later impose more sanctions on Russia over the incident and Moscow's refusal to release 24 Ukrainian crew. Moscow frees the crew as part of a wider prisoner swap in September 2019.

January, 2019 - Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head of the world's Orthodox Christians, formally grants independence to the Ukrainian church, marking an historic split from Russia which Ukraine's leaders saw as vital for their country's security. Moscow condemns the move.

April, 2019 - Volodymyr Zelenskiy, 41, a comedian with no political experience and few detailed policies, wins Ukraine's presidential election on promises to end the war in the Donbass and root out graft.

September, 2019 - Russian, Ukrainian and separatist negotiators agree that Kiev will grant territory controlled by the rebels a special status and hold elections there. Some Ukrainians protest the move, seeing it as a "betrayal".

December, 2019 - Zelenskiy says he hopes to agree with Putin in Paris a ceasefire and exchange of all prisoners. He also says any elections in the Donbass must take place under Ukrainian law with Ukrainian candidates.

(Compiled by Gareth Jones, Editing by Timothy Heritage)