MOSCOW, August 21 (RIA Novosti) — A meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents slated for August 26 in the Belarusian capital of Minsk is a step forward in de-escalating the conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s lower house speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Thursday.
“The Minsk meeting is one of the stages to de-escalating this conflict," State Duma Speaker Naryshkin said.
Naryshkin stressed that the de-escalation of the Ukrainian conflict requires establishing a dialogue involving “all the political powers and all the regions of the country.”
On Tuesday, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration Valeriy Chaliy said the coming two weeks would be decisive for a peaceful settlement in Ukraine, and that Kiev wants to resolve the conflict through diplomacy.
On August 26, Minsk is to host a meeting between Ukraine, the European Union, the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. The Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the event.
According to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s press service, the meeting will address a number of urgent political and economic issues, including Ukraine’s European integration, energy security and the stabilization of the situation in Donbas.
The press service also said Poroshenko had accepted the invitation of European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to visit Brussels on August 30. In addition to the invitation to Brussels, Barroso and Poroshenko discussed granting Ukraine the third tranche of EU financial assistance over the telephone.
In mid-April, Kiev launched a military operation in southeastern Ukraine after several of its regions refused to recognize the legitimacy of the country’s new government following the February 22 coup and overthrow of the previous government.
The fighting intensified after Donetsk and Luhansk regions proclaimed themselves independent people’s republics. Moscow has described the ongoing military actions as a punitive operation and has repeatedly called on Kiev to put an immediate end to the bloodshed.