Putin: Ceasefire key ahead of talks
An immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine is necessary to create conditions for talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin said today.
Speaking in Normandy, Mr Putin said he expects Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko to show "goodwill" and "state wisdom". He also said that Moscow is ready for constructive discussion with Ukraine on settling its gas debt to Russia.
He said that he and Mr Poroshenko met for 15 minutes to discuss the main issues related to settling the crisis. The leader said he welcomes Mr Poroshenko's position that the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine needs to be stopped.
Mr Poroshenko, also speaking in Normandy, said that he expects a statement from Russia about the recognition of his election, according to the Interfax news agency.
The meeting between the tow leaders came on the same day that Mr Putin spoke with US President Barack Obama, who had been keeping the Russian leader at arm's length over the Ukrainian crisis that has rekindled Cold War-era tensions.
The Kremlin earlier said the two men called for the "soonest end to bloodshed in south-eastern Ukraine and combat by both parties, the Ukrainian armed forces and supporters of the federalisation of Ukraine," in a statement carried by Russian news wires.
Mr Putin, who was frozen out of G-7 talks yesterday in Brussels, appeared to be moving incrementally back into the fold of the West following his first direct talks with the man elected to lead Ukraine after the previous pro-Kremlin president was ousted in what Mr Putin has called a coup.