Ukraine, Russia Presidents to meet in Belarus

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Posted in category Eurasia, Eurasia News
Comments Off on Ukraine, Russia Presidents to meet in Belarus

Russia and Ukraine said yesterday their presidents would meet together with top European Union officials in Belarus’s capital of Minsk on August 26 to discuss their confrontation over Ukraine which has plunged relations to an all-time low. The meeting will put Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko in the same room for the first time since a passing encounter in France in June, though Ukrainian officials were at pains to say no face-to-face meeting there between the two men was planned as yet.

Nonetheless, with a Ukrainian military offensive making inroads against pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian officials were upbeat that the Minsk meeting could be a diplomatic opportunity for Kiev and provide a forum for bringing fresh diplomatic pressure to bear on Putin to end Moscow’s support for the rebels. “Today a clear diplomatic roadmap is taking shape. We can come up with new approaches that will allow us to talk about a move from war to peace,” Valery Chaly, Poroshenko’s top foreign policy aide, said. Putin will be accompanied at the talks by Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko and Kazkahstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose countries also belong to the Russia-led Customs Union which the pro-Western Kiev leadership spurned in favour of EU integration when it came to power in February.

The EU team will be headed by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. A statement from Poroshenko’s administration said the meeting would discuss issues related to implementing the landmark association agreement Kiev signed with the EU, energy security and “stabilising the situation in Ukraine”. But Chaly clearly suggested that Poroshenko would press Putin to end what he views as Moscow’s support for, and arming of, the rebels who now seem increasingly in disarray. Moscow denies Kiev’s charges that it is allowing supplies of heavy weaponry and sending Russian fighters there. Rebel losses in the past few days appear to have increasingly pushed Putin into a tight corner.

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