Slim chance of progress as Russian and Ukrainian leaders meet

Slim chance of progress as Russian and Ukrainian leaders meet
# 25 August 2014 22:38 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Divided by mistrust and mutual recriminations, the Russian and Ukrainian leaders will hold rare talks on Tuesday that offer only a slim hope of progress towards ending five months of separatist war in Ukraine, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Since Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko last met on June 6 in France, Ukraine has turned the tide of the conflict and largely encircled pro-Russian rebels holding out in two cities in the east of the former Soviet republic.

But the diplomatic crisis has only deepened, especially since the downing of a Malaysian airliner over rebel-held territory last month with the loss of 298 lives.

Ukraine accused Russia on Monday of sending soldiers across the border to open a new front, a charge that Moscow dismissed as the latest salvo in a campaign of misinformation.

Poroshenko expressed "extraordinary concern" at the alleged move, his press service said.

View galleryPeople look at destroyed Ukrainian army vehicles that …

People look at destroyed Ukrainian army vehicles that were seized, after they were placed on public …

Russia has consistently denied arming or fighting alongside the separatists. Stung by U.S. and EU sanctions against its finance, oil and defence sectors, it has hit back by banning most Western food imports, in a trade war that is hurting both the Russian and European economies.

With East-West tensions at their highest since the Cold War, Russian and NATO forces have both stepped up exercises in recent months.

Tuesday's talks, expected to begin after 0700 ET in the Belarussian capital of Minsk, will include European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the leaders of Belarus and Kazakhstan, partners in a Russian-led customs union.

But expectations on all sides appear low, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel among those playing down any likelihood of a breakthrough to end the fighting, in which more than 2,000 people have been killed since April.

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