Tags: Russia | Ukraine | Ukraine | Russia | crimea | fighting | Germany

Ukraine's Poroshenko Talks With Putin as Fighting Continues

Thursday, 27 November 2014 06:28 AM

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko held his first talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in almost a month on the conflict in the country’s east, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled she’s ready for a long crisis.

The two leaders had "a constructive talk," Iryna Friz, Poroshenko’s former spokeswoman, who is now a member of Ukraine’s new parliament, said Thursday.

The presidents discussed the situation in southeast Ukraine, according to a statement on the Kremlin’s website. Poroshenko and Putin last spoke to each other on Oct. 31, according to the two presidential websites.

As government forces and pro-Russian separatists battle in eastern Ukraine, Merkel said that Germany’s goal is to keep the former Soviet republic sovereign and whole. Russia’s actions threaten "the peaceful international order and breach international law," and the European Union (EU) needs unity to confront it, she said in a speech to parliament in Berlin on Wednesday.

"We need patience and staying power to overcome the crisis," she said to applause from lower-house lawmakers. Economic sanctions on Russia "remain unavoidable" as a cease- fire in eastern Ukraine fails to hold, she said.

Merkel, who has emerged as Europe’s main conduit to Putin in the Ukraine crisis, used some of the strongest language yet to hint at her exasperation, as she retraced attempts by world leaders to reach out to the Russian president during a year of escalating conflict.

Germany was "sparing no effort" to try to reach a diplomatic solution, she said. The European Union’s biggest economy has also taken into account Russian concerns about the impact of Ukraine’s free-trade deal with the bloc.

Ukrainian former President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned a plan to sign the agreement, triggering the crisis that preceded Putin’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March.

"None of this justifies or excuses Russia’s annexation of Crimea," said Merkel, who held a four-hour discussion with Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Australia this month. "None of this justifies or excuses the direct or indirect participation in the fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk.

"Russia is breaching Ukraine’s territorial integrity," she said.

Germany’s relationship with Russia will have to be "remapped," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a speech to parliament. "Where we will stand 10 or 15 years from now, what the European security architecture will look like — I don’t know," he said.

Putin, speaking at a meeting with military commanders yesterday in Sochi, Russia, said the country poses "no threat to anyone" and is intent on avoiding "geopolitical games, intrigues and especially conflicts, no matter how much someone would want to drag us in." 

He added, "It’s necessary to reliably protect Russia’s sovereignty and integrity and the security of our allies."

Ukraine’s parliament convened Thursday for its first session since the Oct. 26 elections that were dominated by the crisis in the east. Arseniy Yatsenyuk is expected to be reconfirmed as prime minister when legislators begin voting on a new coalition government.

Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot being held prisoner in Russia, was among deputies sworn in after her signed oath of office was shown on a parliamentary screen in the chamber. Poroshenko accuses Russia of abducting Savchenko after she was seized by separatists in eastern Ukraine in June, and has demanded her release.

After the swearing-in ceremony, the new parliament held a minute’s silence in memory of at least 100 Ukrainians killed during anti-Yanukovych protests in February and the more than 4,300 who have died in eight months of conflict in the east.

Two civilians died and eight were injured in the past 24 hours after rebels shelled residential areas in Popasna in the Luhansk region, the National Security and Defense Council said Thursday on Facebook. The Sept. 5 cease-fire in eastern Ukraine has been repeatedly broken.

A car carrying monitors with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was fired on with a rocket- propelled grenade and multiple anti-aircraft rounds northeast of Donetsk, the organization said in a statement Wednesday night. Nobody was hurt.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization isn’t discussing accession of Ukraine, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said, a day after Poroshenko announced that Ukraine would decide on entry in a future referendum. German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said Ukraine should focus on economic reform.

German resistance to Ukraine’s membership in the 28-nation military alliance, an echo of statements by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius this week, is a warning to Poroshenko not to aggravate the conflict.

Ukrainian membership in NATO would be absolutely unacceptable, a Russian government official said this week, asking not to be named discussing diplomatic policy.

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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko held his first talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in almost a month on Thursday, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled she's ready for a long crisis and a continuation of sanctions against Russia.
Ukraine, Russia, crimea, fighting, Germany
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2014-28-27
Thursday, 27 November 2014 06:28 AM
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