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Putin, Poroshenko hold bilateral meeting in Minsk

Bishkek (AKIpress) - lead_large Ukraine and Russia have agreed to hold military consultations over the bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko said late on Tuesday after two hours of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the CIS media report Tuesday.

The consultations between members of both countries’ general staff and border guard commands are meant to fulfil Ukraine’s demand to re-establish government control of the border with Russia, Mr. Poroshenko told reporters in Minsk, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reported.

Mr. Putin said after the meeting with Mr. Poroshenko, both the sides had agreed to swiftly revive so-called contact group talks between Russia, Ukraine and the Organization of Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE).

Mr. Putin was adamant that Moscow would not hold any talks about a ceasefire in Ukraine because Russia was not a party to the conflict. “We can only help to create trust,” he said.

Speaking separately from Mr. Poroshenko, Mr. Putin said that energy talks with Kiev would start again soon and that a working group of Russian, Ukrainian and European Union experts would seek to address Moscow’s concerns about a trade agreement between Kiev and Brussels. Mr. Putin warned that Russia would take measures to protect its economy if its interests are not taken into account, Russian news agencies reported.

Earlier, he accused the EU and Ukraine of causing some 3 billion dollars in losses to the Russian economy by signing a landmark trade treaty this summer. He argued Ukraine was no longer importing Russian goods in favour of those from the EU, while flooding the Russian market with its products.

Tuesday’s talks between Mr. Putin and Mr. Poroshenko were their first lengthy meeting since Mr. Poroshenko was elected in May. They held only brief talks during D-Day anniversary observations in June in Normandy.

The meeting in Minsk was preceded by talks with senior EU officials and the leaders of Belarus and Kazakhstan, whose countries form a Customs Union with Russia. The meetings were overshadowed by ongoing battles between Ukrainian government troops and separatist militias, which Kiev alleged were being reinforced by regular Russian soldiers.


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