Putin Talks With Ukraine as Fighting Escalates

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 26 2014 3:00 PM

Putin Talks With Poroshenko as Russian Soldiers Captured in Eastern Ukraine

454199908-belarus-president-alexander-lukashenko-gestures-next-to
Gang's all here!

Photo by Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met in Minsk, Belarus, on Tuesday for the first time since fighting broke out—and as fighting worsened—in Eastern Ukraine. 

From the Associated Press:

The meeting in the Belarusian capital of Minsk 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. Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of supporting and arming the pro-Russian rebels fighting government troops, which Russia always denies.
... Under pressure to seek a negotiated settlement and not a military victory, Poroshenko said the purpose of his visit was to start searching for a political compromise and promised that the interests of Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine would be taken into account.
Putin devoted most of his opening remarks to trade, arguing that Ukraine's decision to sign an association agreement with the 28-nation EU would lead to huge losses for Russia, which would then be forced to protect its economy. Russia had been counting on Ukraine joining a rival economic union it is forming with Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Advertisement

Putin's focus on trade is telling, since the conflict in Ukraine arguably began when then-president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych was told by the Kremlin not to sign the EU association agreement. After a revolution ousting Yanukovych, the annexation of Crimea, and the creation of the current crisis in the East, Ukraine has since signed the agreement and is expected to ratify it in September. Given that Poroshenko affirmed his commitment to ratification at a meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton on Tuesday, and that Russian news agency RIA Novosti is quoting a Russian defense ministry source as saying that the captured Russian troops came into Ukraine "by accident," it is perhaps unlikely that resolution to either the trade or military conflicts will be found in Belarus. Still, the two are meeting for their first-ever bilateral talks together behind closed doors Thursday afternoon.

For his part, the president of host country Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, offered that both Russia and Ukraine should "discard political ambitions." Belarus is commonly referred to as Europe's last dictatorship—and is also, according to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace scholar Balázs Jarábik, basically the only rational regional actor involved in the current conflict.

Emily Tamkin is an M.Phil. candidate in Russian and East European studies at Oxford. Follow her on Twitter.  

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.