The Ukrainian and Russian leaders have spelled out their concerns on the effects of the ongoing Ukraine conflict. They set out their contrasting priorities at a summit in Minsk.
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and Russia's Vladimir Putin came together for what promised to be difficult multilateral talks on Tuesday in the Belarusian capital.
It's unclear whether the pair will sit down for one-on-one talks. Instead they have been participating in a rountable that included various EU officials, such as the bloc's foreign policy coordinator, Catherine Ashton, and the presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Poroshenko and Putin outlined their visions on how to achieve peace in Ukraine, with Putin urging dialogue and not military escalation, while Poroshenko called on Russia to stop supplying weapons to rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine - a claim Moscow has repeatedly denied in the past.
"We are convinced that today, (the Ukraine crisis) cannot be solved by further escalation of the military scenario, without taking into account vital interests of the southeastern regions of the country, and without a peaceful dialogue with its representatives," Putin said.
There was an obvious difference in how both referred to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine's east, which has killed 2,200 people over the past four months.
Poroshenko said the goal of his visit was to "end the bloodshed and begin the search for political compromise."
"In Minsk, at this meeting, the fate of the world and Europe is being decided," Poroshenko told the roundtable, speaking in Russian.
Putin, however, only mentioned the fighting in passing, instead focusing on trade. He argued that Ukraine's decision to sign an association agreement with the EU would lead to huge losses for Russia.
Russia had wanted Ukraine to join a rival economic union that it is establishing with Belarus and Kazakhstan. Ukraine is set to ratify an EU association agreement in September.
Poroshenko refused to mention Putin by name, pointedly referring to the other participants, but speaking only of "the presence of the leadership of the Russian Federation."
It was the second time both leaders had met since Poroshenko was elected in April. The talks on Tuesday come after reports that Ukrainian troops had claimed to have captured 10 Russian soldiers who had crossed into the country.
On Monday, Poroshenko dissolved Ukraine's parliament, paving the way for parliamentary elections for October.
jr/ksb (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)
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