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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

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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