Putin holds out a hand to G7 on Ukraine

2014-06-04 22:53

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Brussels - Russian President Vladimir Putin held out a hand to the west on Wednesday just as leaders of the Group of Seven powers met in Brussels to hammer out a joint message to Moscow on Ukraine.

With Russia banned from the summit for the first time since the 1990s, Putin claimed he was ready to meet Ukraine's president-elect, while scathingly dismissing US claims of military intervention in the country.

"I don't plan to avoid anyone," Putin said when asked by French media if he would meet and shake hands with Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko at World War II ceremonies attended by a host of world leaders in Normandy on Friday.

He also signalled an apparent willingness to talk to Barack Obama in France, despite the US showing no signs of wanting a meeting.

"There will be other guests, and I'm not going to avoid any of them. I will talk with all of them," Putin told French television TF1 and radio Europe 1.

Putin will hold meetings with French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron in France on Thursday and Friday, indicating a possible thaw.

A draft communique from the G7 summit in Belgium seen by AFP called on Russia to "enter into a frank and open dialogue, principally with Ukraine."

The worst East-West crisis in decades dominated the G7 talks, a summit due to have been hosted by Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi but switched to Brussels in the anger that followed Moscow's March annexation of Crimea.

Dark tactics

At a visit in Poland ahead of the talks, Obama drove home a hawkish warning, condemning Moscow's "dark tactics" in Ukraine and promising years of US support for ex-communist Nato states.

"How can we allow the dark tactics of the 20th century to define this new century?" Obama asked in a speech marking 25 years of Polish democracy after the Cold War.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced in Brussels a review of "the US force presence in Europe", in a sign that Washington is not backing down.

But Putin dismissed allegations of Russian military meddling in eastern Ukraine.

"Proof? Let's see it!" he said. "The entire world remembers the US secretary of state demonstrating the evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, waving around some test tube with washing powder in the UN Security Council."

The G7 leaders discussed Ukraine over dinner on Wednesday, and looked set to hold out the carrot of talks against the stick of further sanctions.

"Tonight, the G7 should send a clear message of support to Ukraine and a united message to President Putin that he needs to engage with the Ukrainian government to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis," said British Prime Minister David Cameron as he went into the talks.

"And that's what I'll be saying to President Putin myself tomorrow," he added.

Sanctions on the table

EU president Herman Van Rompuy said while wider sanctions were still under preparation, there were "some diplomatic possibilities to see if Russia is ready to engage more".

Even as hundreds of Ukrainian rebels battled government forces Wednesday, European diplomats stressed there was a "window of opportunity" after the relatively smooth election of chocolate tycoon Poroshenko on 25 May.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated a warning that Russia could face stepped-up sanctions if it does not stop destabilisation in eastern Ukraine.

"Sanctions remain on the table," Merkel said on arrival.

In the latest violence in Ukraine, three government soldiers were injured in a massive all-night attack carried out by hundreds of pro-Russian insurgents armed with rocket launchers and mortars in the nation's restive east.

Obama met Poroshenko days before his inauguration and declared himself "deeply impressed" by the businessman Ukrainians chose on 25 May to lead them back from a political and economic precipice.

He said the United States was "absolutely committed" to supporting Ukraine for "the coming years."

Nato defence ministers on Tuesday agreed a series of steps to bolster protection in eastern Europe after the Ukraine crisis, but insisted they were acting within the limits of a key post-Cold War treaty with Moscow.

Obama meanwhile proposed a one-billion-dollar fund to finance new US air, naval and troop rotations through Eastern Europe.

Read more on:    g7  |  eu  |  vladimir putin  |  russia

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.