Ukraine sees 'understanding' with Russia on peace moves

KIEV Mon Jun 9, 2014 3:57pm EDT

An old woman looks from inside a car with bullet holes and shattered windows as she flees fighting in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk June 9, 2014. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

An old woman looks from inside a car with bullet holes and shattered windows as she flees fighting in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk June 9, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich

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KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine said on Monday it had reached a "mutual understanding" with Moscow on parts of a plan proposed by President Petro Poroshenko for ending violence in the east of the country.

Kiev gave no details and Russia did not comment directly but two days of talks, following a brief encounter in France last week that broke the ice between Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin, have given momentum to peace moves.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement released in Berlin that there was "some faint light at the end of the tunnel" in the Ukraine conflict for the first time in months.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement in Kiev that Russian and Ukrainian representatives had met three times in the past two days to discuss Poroshenko's plan to end an insurrection by pro-Russian separatists in the east.

"As a result of the work, the sides reached a mutual understanding on key stages of the implementation of the plan and on a list of priorities which will contribute to a de-escalation of the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine," it said.

The talks are being mediated by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Vienna-based security and human rights watchdog, but almost no details of Poroshenko's plan or the talks have been made public.

It was not even clear who took part in Monday's meetings, although the Ukrainian leader was present at Sunday's talks and said that the violence must end this week.

"Each day when people die, when Ukraine pays such a high price, is inadmissible for me," his office quoted him as saying.

Poroshenko, who was sworn in on Saturday, has called for daily meetings of the "contact group" and the Foreign Ministry said the talks would continue.

EBB IN FIGHTING

Scores of people have been killed since April in east Ukraine, including separatists and government forces, and Russian speakers there are suspicious of Poroshenko and the new, pro-Western government in Kiev.

But fighting has ebbed in the past few days, despite renewed shelling of rebels in the city of Slaviansk, and Russia and Ukraine signaled last week they hoped to resolve a dispute over the price Kiev pays for Russian gas and its gas debts.

Failure to secure a deal, though, would fuel tension again because Moscow has threatened to turn off the taps on Tuesday if there was no agreement at the latest meeting in Brussels.

As the EU gets about a third of its gas imports from Russia, almost half of it via Ukraine, its member states could also suffer from supply disruptions.

In Finland, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the government in Ukraine and the EU had to work more constructively to end the crisis in Ukraine, but also expressed some hope.

"I believe that the newly-chosen Ukrainian President Poroshenko's contacts (with Western leaders) can lead to violence being stopped and internal dialogue beginning," he told a news conference with Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja.

Putin and Poroshenko had 15 minutes of talks during a World War Two anniversary event in France last week, their first meeting since the crisis flared in February after the overthrow of Ukraine's Moscow-leaning president, Viktor Yanukovich.

Yanukovich fled to Russia, which annexed the Crimea region from Ukraine a month later, deepening Moscow's worst standoff with the West since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Poroshenko has set course towards Europe since being elected president on May 25, and stepped up a military operation to take back buildings seized by the separatists in towns and cities in mainly Russian-speaking east Ukraine.

Germany's Steinmeier, who will meet Lavrov and the Polish foreign minister in St Petersburg on Tuesday, said he would "sound out how the positive momentum of recent days can be used to make the process of de-escalation irreversible".

(Additional reporting by Thomas Grove in Slaviansk, Sakari Suoninen in Finland, Michelle Martin in Berlin, and Barbara Lewis and Martin Santa in Brussels, Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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Comments (12)
xcanada2 wrote:
This could be very good news for Ukrainians and the world. To repeat an earlier posting (since it was quickly superseded by new articles):

For comparison of the world danger of the present standoff: Consider Russia setting up missile systems and establishing a bases in Mexico along the US border. Tijuana would be a good comparison with Eastern Ukraine near the large Russian naval depot in Sevastopol. The US would not allow this.

Another comparison: Russia moving in a large military presence into Cuba and surrounding areas, indicating the very real possibility of invasion of the US. Of course, we have already seen what happens in this case, the Cuban Missile Crises: perhaps the most grave threat in the world’s history, a nuclear war between Russia and the US. It was Khrushchev/Russia who, by the way, appears to have diffused the crisis, by backing down. Remember also, that US had already set up a similar missile attack capability in Turkey, and Kennedy was allowed to secretly back down on that.

If NATO/US moves their military in to Ukraine, they are risking the lives of perhaps a billion people in the world. For what? And why?
Anyone who would create or encourage this risk is a dangerous nut case, in my view.

The other issue is about the many claims of Russian hostility and aggressiveness. I simply do not understand how so many Western minds have got themselves so twisted up as to believe it is not actually the West who are the aggressors.

Nuland, $5B “democracy” propaganda and payoff bucks, McCain, Kerry, Brennan, Biden, Biden’s son, their entourages, plus EU people, have all recently shown up in Kiev. But, no Russians are seen except for a few volunteers with the Eastern Ukrainians. How do all the supposedly clear thinking Westerners believe this is Russian aggression? What world of thinking do such people come from?

Lies are repeated and repeated by Western MSM, and evidently most Western so-called thinkers accept those lies, repeat them more, and are ready to fight to the death with Russia (somebody else’s death usually). (If this gets to WWIII, it could be also be many of our own personal lives we are talking about.)

The self-righteousness and self-satisfied manner of Westerners in their/our “exceptional” country, is beyond me. It appears that we are witnessing a wave of irrationality here in the US on a par with what the Germans accomplished before and during WWII. What makes us think we are different?

One more point on American craziness:

Before and during WWII, the German people were in a crazy state of mind. Given their Holocaust on Jews and other minority groups, and their attack on Russia, few people would doubt that there was a “crazy state of mind”.

Now, in the US we have, from our leader, no less:
“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my body”.
Now, doesn’t that sound crazy?

Be logical now. No group of people are exceptional! (But the German people believed it, to their great regret.)

Jun 09, 2014 6:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
stonybrook wrote:
To XCanada2:

Thank you for your contribution. Very well said. I was thinking, we (in US) had massive and violent protests since 1960′. The protestors were not bombed or shot at. That is what democracy is all about,

Elle’

Jun 09, 2014 7:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Hahahappy wrote:
Yes the US don’t drop bombs on themselves because they are exceptional. They drop them on everyone else.

Jun 09, 2014 9:21pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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