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Presidents of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine to discuss trade relations

August 26, 2014, 8:16 UTC+3 MOSCOW
If Putin and Poroshenko hold a separate meeting, it will become the first-ever summit between these two Presidents
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© ITAR-TASS/Alexei Nikolsky

MOSCOW, August 26./ITAR-TASS/. Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus and Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, the three countries making up the Eurasian Customs Union, meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Minsk on Tuesday, the Kremlin press service said.

European Commission officials are also expected to attend the meeting.

In addition, Putin is expected to have a range of separate talks in Minsk. His press secretary Dmitry Peskov did not rule out that Putin might also have a separate meeting with Poroshenko.

“There are many topics for discussion,” he said. “Their scope includes Ukraine’s internal crisis, the horrendous humanitarian disaster in the east of the country, and the importance of a ceasefire.”

“Besides, the two leaders may take up the problems of bilateral relationship, especially in the wake of the signing of an Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU,” Peskov said.

“This sphere contains a very strong energy aspect,” he added when a reporter asked him if supplies of Russian natural gas to Ukraine might be taken up.

If Putin and Poroshenko hold a separate meeting, it will become the first-ever summit between these two Presidents. They had a brief rendezvous in Normandy in June but it lasted a mere ten minutes and resembled a conversation on the run, with Germany’s Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande participating in it, too.

Speaking of the meetings in Minsk, Peskov said that the humanitarian situation in Ukraine would be taken up at the general meeting and in the Customs Union - Ukraine format, too.

“It’s clear as daylight that the disastrous situation in the eastern areas of Ukraine and especially in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions cannot be left unattended,” Peskov said. “Still the main theme on the agenda is the relations between the Customs Union and Ukraine after the signing of the AA.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday it was important to use the Minsk format for settling the situation in the southeast of Ukraine.

“All the participants are unanimous in thinking that a political dialogue must be launched,” he said. “The Minsk format isn’t the only one that could be enacted in this sense. The Geneva format (the EU, the US, Russia, and Ukraine) is mentioned, too.”

“We are prepared for any format, just let it produce results,” Lavrov said.

Petro Poroshenko said on the eve of the visit he planned to agree on peace at the meeting in Minsk. His press service quoted him saying that he was going to Minsk “together with a team” of three powerful representatives of the European Union “to talk peace.”

“The people of Ukraine and I myself have firm trust in the importance of activating Ukraine’s peace plan,” he said.

As for the European Commission, its President Jose Manuel Barroso is not coming to Minsk as he is leaving for Vietnam on a visit that was scheduled long ago.

Infographics Who fights in Ukraine Who fights in Ukraine
The political crisis in Ukraine led to the formation of many armed groups on its territory. Infographics by ITAR-TASS
The Commission will be represented by the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht and Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger.

Baroness Ashton said Sunday that the Minsk meeting between Putin and Poroshenko offered a nice opportunity to untangle the Ukrainian crisis and it was not to be missed.

She also expressed the opinion on importance for Ukraine to have good relations with the EU member-states and Russia likewise. The Ukrainian people had elected a president and a path to follow and it stood in need of good relations with its European neighbors and Russia.

A spokesperson for the Commission said resumption of talks on the purchases of Russian gas by Ukraine might also be a subject of negotiations in Minsk.

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