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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

Sunday, Dec. 21


The Zenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the club’s website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBA’s and Capital Legal Service’s event “Arctic Expedition” this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers’ ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



Wednesday, Dec. 24


The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.



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