The presidents of Russia and Ukraine met late Tuesday for their first bilateral talks at a much-anticipated summit in Minsk, which many voiced hopes may help bring an end to fighting between Kyiv’s forces and pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko met in the Belarusian capital, the first such meeting between the countries’ heads of state since Ukraine’s pro-Russian ex-president was ousted from power in February, according to the Twitter account of the Ukrainian presidential administration. The meeting, which had not been previously announced by either side, was also confirmed by Kremlin.
The talks came as Ukraine said it had captured 10 Russian soldiers in eastern Ukraine and shelling spread to a new front in the country’s southeast. Kyiv and many Western countries have repeatedly accused Russia of providing arms and expertise to the rebels in east Ukraine, a charge Russia has denied.
While it is still unclear if the two leaders will find common ground and pave a way for peace in east Ukraine, the face-to-face meeting was a remarkable breakthrough for both sides.
I am not optimistic.