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Questions Left Unanswered at Putin-Poroshenko Minsk Talks

The talks on Ukraine in the Belarusian capital of Minsk that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said would decide “the fate of the world and Europe” did not yield any breakthrough solutions to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti), Antonina Ivanova – The talks on Ukraine in the Belarusian capital of Minsk that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said would decide “the fate of the world and Europe” did not yield any breakthrough solutions to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The talks were attended by the presidents of Russia and Ukraine, senior European Union officials, including EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, as well as the leaders of Belarus and Kazakhstan, which are partners in the Russian-led Customs Union.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a private conversation on Tuesday evening, after the multilateral talks. The one-on-one meeting lasted for about two hours.

“We all wanted a breakthrough," Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told reporters after the multilateral part of the talks had finished.

However, talks between the leaders of Russia and Ukraine apparently failed to result in any major breakthroughs.

Poroshenko said that “some results” were achieved but there seemed to be no significant compromises to help end the four months of clashes between Ukrainian government forces and militia fighters in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday night, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was willing to “do everything” if a peace process to end the fighting in Ukraine’s war-torn east gets underway.

“Russia will do everything for the peace process if it begins," Putin stressed adding that the process “must be launched as soon as possible”.

After two hours of one-on-one talks with the Russian president, which he described as “very tough and complex,” Poroshenko promised a “roadmap” that would help “achieve a ceasefire regime as soon as possible that absolutely must be bilateral in character."

Putin said Russia is ready to build the trust necessary for the negotiations process, but noted that it was not for Russia to discuss the specific ceasefire terms between Kiev and Ukraine’s eastern regions.

“We didn’t substantively discuss that, and we, Russia, can’t substantively discuss the conditions for a ceasefire, or agreements between Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk. That’s not our business, it’s up to Ukraine itself," Putin told reporters early Wednesday.

It is unclear how the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk would respond to the idea of a ceasefire, how soon it could be agreed upon, or how long it might last.

Over four months, brutal fighting in the regions has killed more than 2,200 people and forced over 400,000 to flee their homes.

Luhansk is currently on the verge of a humanitarian disaster, but Poroshenko and Putin did not reveal any specific information on how they plan to tackle the issue.

“I do not want to jump ahead, but certain agreements have been reached," Putin said, noting that he “discussed the possibility and necessity of rendering humanitarian aid to Donetsk and Luhansk” with President Poroshenko.

The specifics of the agreements reached by the two leaders are unclear.

Russia sent a convoy carrying about 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid from Moscow to eastern Ukraine on August 12. However, the convoy only arrived in Luhansk on Friday, August 22, after being delayed by Ukrainian authorities at the Russian-Ukrainian border.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that Moscow was weighing sending another humanitarian convoy to the troubled Ukrainian regions.

The same day, President Poroshenko expressed "extraordinary concern" over Moscow’s plans to send a second convoy to Ukraine in a telephone conversation with European Council President Herman van Rompuy.

Nothing was said about the second convoy by either Poroshenko or Putin following their one-on-one meeting and the Minsk talks.

The two leaders also failed to reach any specific agreements on the potential resumption of gas supplies to Ukraine.

“Sincerely speaking, this is a complicated issue. It has reached a dead end, but we still need to talk about it,” Putin said, noting that he has agreed to resume the energy dialogue with the Ukrainian leader.

European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said in Minsk that three-way gas consultations would take place in Moscow on Friday between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union.

The last such talks broke down in June, prompting Russian energy giant Gazprom to cut supplies to Ukraine after Kiev refused to pay its gas debt that had reached $4.5 billion.

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