Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro met in Minsk, Belarus, for their first in-person meeting since June 6. The meeting was also attended by European Union leaders and the Customs Union, which includes Ukraine, members of the European Commission, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.
On the agenda were a variety of issues causing tensions between Ukraine and Russia, including the Kremlin's economic future (which is under pressure from sanctions) and war-torn Donbass. President Poroshenko offered his proposed peace plan, pushing a mainly humanitarian cause during the meeting. Leaders from Kazakhstan agreed that resolving the war and human suffering in Eastern Ukraine was imperative.
President Putin spoke with press following the two-hour meeting. He told Russia Today the talks were "positive," but did not offer details about the future of Poroshenko's proposed peace plan.
“We, Russia, cannot talk about any ceasefire conditions whatsoever, or possible agreements between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk," said Putin, "We can only facilitate the creation of an environment of trust in the course of this possible and much needed, in my opinion, negotiation process. This is what we talked about."
Not surprisingly, the meeting was tense as world leaders disagreed with Russian politicians and their framing of events. "Not all of our arguments are accepted by our colleagues, but at least we were heard and we have agreed to intensify the exchange of views, and try to find some solutions," explained Putin.
President Poroshenko did not hold a press conference after the meeting, but his office later offered this statement, "A roadmap will be prepared in order to achieve as soon as possible a ceasefire regime which absolutely must be bilateral in character."
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko spoke most candidly about the meeting: "We all wanted a breakthrough. But the very fact of holding the meeting today is already a success, undoubtedly. The talks were difficult. The sides' positions differ, sometimes fundamentally. Everybody agreed on the need to de-escalate and free hostages."