REINEKE FORD   ||   NEWS UPDATES

Russian, Ukrainian leaders meet in Normandy

Comment: Off

Ukraine’s President-elect Petro Poroshenko, left, walks past Russian President Vladimir Putin during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day in Ouistreham, western France, Friday, June 6, 2014. World leaders and veterans gathered by the beaches of Normandy on Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of World War Two’s D-Day landings. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)

Ukraine’s President-elect Petro Poroshenko, left, walks past Russian President Vladimir Putin during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day in Ouistreham, western France, Friday, June 6, 2014. World leaders and veterans gathered by the beaches of Normandy on Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of World War Two’s D-Day landings. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)

A large screen shows a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and U.S. President Barack Obama during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day in Ouistreham, western France, Friday, June 6, 2014. World leaders and veterans gathered by the beaches of Normandy on Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of World War Two’s D-Day landings. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko, center, talk after a group photo before a luncheon as they take part in the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Benouville in Normandy, France, Friday, June 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko, left, talk after a group photo as they take part in the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Benouville in Normandy, France, Friday, June 6, 2014. Man second right is unidentified. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

A Ukrainian soldier prepares mines during a battle with pro-Russian separatist fighters at Slovyansk, Ukraine, Friday, June 6, 2014. At least five Ukrainian soldiers were wounded, two of them heavily in this short clash with the pro-Russian separatist fighters. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Buy AP Photo Reprints

OUISTREHAM, France (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday spoke for the first time with Ukraine’s president-elect, praising his intention to end the violence that has engulfed eastern Ukraine and urging an immediate cease-fire.

Speaking to reporters in Normandy in remarks televised live on Russian television, Putin said he expects Petro Poroshenko, who is to be sworn for office on Saturday, to show “good will” and “state wisdom.”

Putin also said that Moscow is ready for constructive discussion with Ukraine on settling its gas debt to Russia.

He said that he and Poroshenko met for 15 minutes to discuss the main issues related to settling the crisis.

“I can only welcome Mr. Poroshenko’s position that the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine must be stopped immediately,” Putin said, adding that Poroshenko briefly told him about his initiatives intended to end hostilities.

The pair’s brief meeting took place at a chateau in northern France’s Benouville, on the sidelines of ceremonies honoring the bravery of those who battled for Europe’s peace during World War II.

The Russian president said he liked Poroshenko’s approach, but added that he will be waiting for the Ukrainian leader to deliver it in detail to the nation.

Putin didn’t say if Moscow was prepared to take any action to persuade pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine to stop fighting Ukraine’s government troops.

Putin has denied claims by Ukraine and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in eastern Ukraine. He insisted that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to the representatives of the east.

“It’s not Russia and Ukraine that need to be parties to the negotiations, as Russia isn’t a party to the conflict. It should be the authorities in Kiev and supporters of federalization in the east,” he said.

Poroshenko, speaking to journalists in Normandy, said that he expected Moscow to quickly recognize his election, according to the Interfax news agency.

Poroshenko is expected to detail his peace plan, which he said would include an amnesty and an offer of early regional elections, following his Saturday’s inauguration.

The meeting between Putin and Poroshenko came on the same day that Putin spoke with 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.

Putin said he and Obama spoke twice Friday, and their conversation was “quite substantive.”

Putin, who was frozen out of G-7 talks Thursday 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 Putin has called a coup.

__

Isachenkov reported from Moscow. Angela Charlton in Paris, Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow, Geir Moulson in Berlin and Julie Pace in Benouville, France, contributed to this report.

Associated Press

Comments

comments

About the Author