HANGZHOU /China/, September 5./TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin says there is no other format but the Normandy one at the moment to settle the situation in Ukraine. However, such meetings should improve the situation, and not be just talks for the sake of talks, he said.
"Indeed, we were going to meet in a three-party format (the presidents of Russia, France and the German chancellor) at their initiative, and then also at their initiative we met in a bilateral format," Putin told a news conference after a G20 summit.
He said this happened "because Mrs. Federal Chancellor (Angela Merkel) was too engaged at that time in domestic political issues - elections were in progress in one of the federal states, and she was simply busy at the moment".
"So at first we first met with the French president, and then, then Mrs. Federal Chancellor arrived," Putin said, noting that they had focused mainly on the Ukrainian crisis
"As for the Normandy Format, whether it is good or bad, there is no other option for at least making attempts towards the settlement," Putin said the news conference. "That is why, of course Russia will be supporting this format," he added.
"What can we do, I suppose we will have to speak (with Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko)," he went on. "But I told the Federal Chancellor (Angela Merkel) and the French President (Francois Hollande) that it is not the matter of meeting or not, the matter is in seeing these meetings lead to some progress in the settlement," he said.
"I think it is senseless to simply state that the meeting did take place. I have an impression that nobody wants to meet just for the sake of meeting, maybe with the exception of Poroshenko himself, I don’t know. I haven’t talked to him for long," the president added.
Back in early August, the Normandy Four meeting was expected to be organized in China’s Hangzhou. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on August 8, Russia would support the initiative from Kiev, if Germany and France agree, and if China, the event’s host, offers a venue for the talks.
However, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said on August 10 that it had detained a group of saboteurs in Crimea and prevented a number of terrorist attacks planned by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s intelligence department. The FSB said the saboteurs plotted attacks on the peninsula’s crucial infrastructure. Two Russian military servicemen were killed in the process of apprehending the terrorists.
President Putin slammed the Ukrainian secret services’ sabotage attempt in Crimea as "silly and criminal". The real aim, he said, was to divert attention from Ukraine’s domestic problems and the authorities, who were swindling their own people. Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko dismissed Moscow’s charges, arguing that the detention of saboteurs was a provocation.
Vladimir Putin said then it was senseless to organize the Normandy Four’s summit under those circumstances.