WASHINGTON, June 06 /ITAR-TASS/. US President Barack Obama told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday that de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine will depend on whether Putin recognizes Pyotr Poroshenko as Ukraine’s leader, a White House spokesman said Friday.
The spokesman also quoted Obama as saying that should Russia recognize the new Ukrainian government, this may reduce tensions.
The Russian and US leaders spoke today in France’s Normandy, where they took part in solemn events in honor of the 70th anniversary of the landing of Allied troops in Normandy during World War II in June 1944.
Putin also held a brief personal meeting with Ukrainian President-elect Poroshenko.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the meeting was held on the sidelines of Friday’s formal lunch of world leaders on behalf of French President Francois Hollande.
Peskov said Putin held a brief conversation with French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Poroshenko.
“During their short conversation, both Putin and Poroshenko spoke for the soonest end to the bloodshed in the southeast of Ukraine, as well as for stopping all combat activities both on behalf of the Ukrainian armed forces and supporters of Ukraine’s federalization,” Peskov told journalists.
“Moreover, they confirmed that there is no alternative to the settlement of the situation by peaceful political means,” the presidential spokesman added.
Billionaire businessman and politician Pyotr Poroshenko won the May 25 early presidential election in Ukraine set by the provisional Kiev authorities propelled to power amid riots when a coup occurred in the country in February. He is to be sworn in on June 7.
Western-leaning Poroshenko, dubbed “the chocolate king” because his structures control Ukraine’s Roshen confectionery manufacturer, earlier told media he had funded anti-government protests that led to February's coup.
Residents of Ukraine’s southeastern territories, mainly the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, staged massive protests against the coup-imposed Ukrainian authorities. Their urge to defend their rights was apparently prompted by Crimea’s accession to Russia in mid-March.
Demonstrators in the Southeast, who have been demanding Ukraine’s federalization, seized some government buildings.
A punitive operation, conducted by Kiev against federalization supporters in Ukraine's Southeast, has already claimed dozens of lives, including civilian. The Donetsk and Lugansk regions held referendums on May 11, in which most voters supported independence from Ukraine.
Russia has been insistently urging Kiev to stop the punitive operation, which involves armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation, and engage in dialogue with the Southeast.