MINSK, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Heads of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia,
the three states of the Customs Union (CU), plus Ukraine and
representatives from the European Union (EU) met here Tuesday to
discuss the Ukraine crisis and economic cooperation.
"Though the sides held radically opposite views on some issues,
everybody agreed that a dialogue is necessary," Belarusian
President Alexander Lukashenko said after the summit. "It is also
necessary to de-escalate tensions (in eastern Ukraine), release
hostages and avert humanitarian disaster."
The fact that the meeting took place means a success and is "a
step in the right direction," Lukashenko said, adding that the
meeting decided to make Minsk a floor for follow-up negotiations in
the same format on settling the Ukraine crisis.
The participants also agreed that a group of experts should work
out proposals supposed to remove the CU's concerns about the
EU-Ukraine Association Agreement by Sept. 12, Lukashenko noted.
The EU was represented at the Summit by foreign policy chief
Catherine Ashton, Vice-President Gunther Oettinger who is
responsible for energy, and Commissioner for Trade Karel de
The most eye-catching event was the bilateral meeting between
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart
Petro Poroshenko after the summit. This is the first such meeting
since the latter took office in May.
Agreement has been reached with Poroshenko on resumption of
dialogue on energy between Russia and Ukraine, the Itar-Tass news
agency quoted Putin as saying.
Many hoped the summit could facilitate a political settlement to
the ongoing crisis, but no major breakthrough surfaced for the
During the summit, Putin said the ongoing conflict in
southeastern Ukraine cannot be solved by further escalation of the
Noting that Kiev is ready to discuss "various options" to settle
the crisis peacefully, Poroshenko invited the leaders to accept the
peace plan he formulated in June, "the only possible instrument to
stop bloodshed and ensure Donbas's post-conflict
Donbas is the local name given to eastern Ukraine, which has
been the scene of a five-month-old conflict.
On economic ties, Putin said further cooperation between the CU
and Ukraine would be unlikely to happen if Kiev materializes the
Association Agreement with the EU. He warned that Russia would be
forced to introduce protective measures once the agreement brings
economic damages to Russia.
Poroshenko said Kiev is interested in continuing the economic
dialogue in the troika format of Ukraine, the EU and the CU, which
should be purely pragmatic and "without the use of political
The summit was held against the backdrop of EU and Russia
imposing sanctions on each other over Ukraine crisis, which aroused
fears that sanctions could extend to other important areas such as
energy supply and plunge the overall Eurasian market into