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Ukraine Compromise on the Table in Minsk

Published: August 26, 2014 (Issue # 1825)



  • Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel greeting Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev on August 23.
    Photo: President.gov.ua

After months of a bloody struggle over the fate of Ukraine, all sides in the conflict will attempt to initiate a tangible diplomatic resolution to the crisis during high-profile talks in the Belarussian capital Minsk on Tuesday, to be attended by the Russian and Ukrainian presidents as well as EU officials.

The summit is officially a meeting between Ukraine and the Moscow-led Customs Union that unites Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, with high-ranking EU officials — including Catherine Ashton, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, as well as trade and energy commissioners — in attendance.

The Customs Union is a flagship foreign policy initiative of President Vladimir Putin, and its viability, according to most analysts, depends heavily on Ukraine's participation. The question of whether Ukraine should opt for a closer relationship with the Customs Union or move forward with integration into the European Union was what largely sparked the crisis that has seen relations between Russia and the West plummet to a post-Cold War low.

The Minsk talks present the first opportunity for Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to hold formal discussions about the conflict, which has already claimed thousands of lives across Ukraine, displaced tens of thousands more and devastated the country's economy.

"During this meeting, if it happens, we expect to have a frank conversation on the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis and humanitarian situation," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax.

"It is difficult to expect the presidents to discuss all questions on the agenda," he said.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a news conference Monday that the agenda for the Minsk meetings had not yet been set.

"A number of bilateral meetings is planned to take place in Minsk. Who will meet whom will be announced later," Lavrov told journalists.

The Cost of Conflict

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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