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Putin arrives in Minsk for Customs Union — Ukraine summit

August 26, 2014, 15:55 UTC+3 adds ¶ MINSK

If Putin and Poroshenko hold a separate meeting, it will become the first-ever summit between these two Presidents

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Vladimir Putin (archive)

Vladimir Putin (archive)

© ITAR-TASS/Alexei Nikolsky

MINSK, August 26. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in the Belarusian capital Minsk, where together with the leaders of the Customs Union (bringing together Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan) he will hold a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the Kremlin press service said on Tuesday.

European Commission officials will also attend the meeting.

Putin will hold a number of bilateral meetings in Minsk. Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov did not rule out Putin’s 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,” Pskov added. “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.

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.”

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.

The Commission will be represented by the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht and Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger.

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