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Ukraine Crisis

Breaking news, updates, and analysis on the uprising and crisis in Ukraine.

  • White Official Ben Rhodes provided the following summary of President Obama's conversation with Russian President Putin:

    President Obama spoke informally with President Putin for about 15 minutes at the conclusion of the leaders lunch. President Obama underscored that the successful Ukrainian election provides an opportunity that should be taken. President Obama made clear that de-escalation depends upon Russia recognizing President-elect Poroshenko as the legitimate leader of Ukraine, ceasing support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, and stopping the provision of arms and materiel across the border. President Obama noted President-elect Poroshenko's commitment to pursue reforms to ensure that the rights and interests of all Ukrainians are respected, and urged Russia to work immediately with the government in Kiev to reduce tensions. President Obama made clear that a failure to take these steps would only deepen Russia's isolation. If Russia does take this opportunity to recognize and work with the new government in Kiev, President Obama indicated that there could be openings to reduce tensions.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin says an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine is necessary to create conditions for talks.

    Putin, speaking to reporters in Normandy in remarks televised live on Russian television Friday, said that he expects Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko 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.

    [The Associated Press]
  • Speaking from France, Russian President Putin said said he welcomes the proposals by Ukrainian President-elect Poroshenko to stop bloodshed in Ukraine, Reuters reports.

    He said he warned both Poroshenko and European Union leaders that Russia will implement protectionist measures if Ukraine signs an EU association deal, according to Reuters.

    The Russian president went on to say Ukraine must cease the 'punitive' military operation in southeast Ukraine, Reuters reports.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama urged Russia's Vladimir Putin during a brief informal meeting in France on Friday to seize the opportunity to ease tensions in Ukraine after the election of Petro Poroshenko as president, a White House official said.

    "President Obama made clear that de-escalation depends upon Russia recognizing President-elect Poroshenko as the legitimate leader of Ukraine, ceasing support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, and stopping the provision of arms and material across the border," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters with Obama for D-Day commemorations in France.

    "If Russia does take this opportunity to recognize and work with the new government in Kiev, President Obama indicated that there could be openings to reduce tensions," he added.

  • According to a White House official, President Obama told Russian President Putin that de-escalation in Ukraine depends on him recognizing President-elect Poroshenko as the leader of Ukraine, Reuters reports.

    Obama also reportedly told Putin that if Russia works with the new government in Ukraine, there could be openings to reduce tensions, according to a White House official.

  • A huge video screen on Sword Beach shows U.S. President Obama and Russian President Putin as they arrive for the International 70th D-Day Commemoration Ceremony in Ouistreham on June 6, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters) 

  • Putin, Poroshenko meet briefly on sidelines of D-Day commemoration

    Russian President Vladimir Putin met informally with Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko on Friday on the sidelines of D-Day commemorations in France. It was the first meeting between the two leaders since Poroshenko was elected president of Ukraine, and comes during a week of intense diplomacy aimed at resolving the crisis in Ukraine.

    During a subsequent lunch attended by world leaders, Putin also met informally with President Barack Obama for about 15 minutes, according to a report from the press pool traveling with the U.S. leader. The details of their conversation could not immediately be verified.

    The brief interactions took place after world leaders gathering for the commemoration in France posed for a group photo. After the photo, most of the leaders walked into a nearby building for lunch. But Putin, Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stayed outside the door and chatted.

    Reporters observing the encounter could not hear the apparently animated conversation between Putin and Poroshenko. It only lasted about a minute, and no plans have been announced for a longer, formal meeting, a French official said.

    Reuters news agency quoted a French official as saying that “the conversation took place on possible measures to de-escalate (the crisis), including how Moscow could recognize the election of Poroshenko.” The official in French President Hollande’s office said that “the details of a ceasefire will also be discussed in coming days,” adding that the Putin and Poroshenko also discussed the economic consequences of the stand-off in Ukraine.

    Hollande invited Poroshenko as his personal guest to the ceremonies for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, saying the event should be used to "serve the purposes of peace."

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko called on Friday for a speedy halt to bloodshed and military actions in eastern Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported, citing the Kremlin's spokesman.

    The two leaders met for the first time since Moscow annexed Crimea, as world leaders commemorated the 70th anniversary of the World War Two D-Day landings in France.

    "In a brief conversation, both Putin and Poroshenko called for a speedy end to the bloodshed in southeastern Ukraine as well as to fighting on both sides - by the Ukrainian armed forces as well as by supporters of the federalization of Ukraine," RIA Novosti news agency cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

  • The White House says President Barack Obama has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the margins of a lunch for world leaders during D-Day commemorations in France.

    It's the first face-to-face exchange between Obama and Putin since the start of the crisis in Ukraine.

    The White House says the two leaders held an informal conversation and not a formal, bilateral meeting. The conversation lasted 10 to 15 minutes.

    The exchange came during a lunch hosted by French President Francois Hollande (frahn-SWAH' oh-LAWND'). Obama and Putin were both in France for the 70th anniversary of Allied troops storming the beaches at Normandy.

    [The Associated Press]
  • According to RIA Novosti, which is citing the Kremlin, Russian President Putin and Ukrainian President-elect Poroshenko have called for a halt to the bloodshed and military actions in eastern Ukraine, Reuters reports.
  • The traveling White House press pool has more on President Obama's meeting with president Putin:

    Ben Rhodes tells the pool that Potus and Putin talked on the sideline of the luncheon: "President Obama and President Putin did speak with each other on the margins of the leaders lunch. It was an informal conversation - not a formal bilateral meeting. Will have longer readout to come but wanted to confirm given reports." Rhodes said they spoke for 10 to 15 minutes.

  • .@rhodes44 tells pool Obama/Putin spoke for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Despite reports from the White House press pool to the contrary, French President Hollande's office says President Obama and Russian President Putin held a brief meeting at Friday's D-Day event, Reuters reports.

    The Associated Press, citing the White House, is also reporting that President Obama and President Putin held an informal conversation on the margins of the leaders lunch in France.
  • According to a report from the White House press pool traveling in Europe with President Obama, there was 'no interaction between President Obama and President Putin.'

    'Obama and Putin were at times close enough to touch but did not speak with or acknowledge each other in the pool's presence,' The New York Times' Peter Baker reported.

  • Ukraine president-elect Petro Poroshenko (2nd L), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk after a group photo during the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings on June 6, 2014. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

    According to Reuters, the new Ukrainian president and the Russian president briefly spoke while both attended D-Day commemoration events in France and discussed a possible ceasefire agreement in Ukraine.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko on Friday held their first face-to-face talks on the sidelines of a D-Day anniversary event in France and discussed a possible ceasefire agreement in Ukraine, a French official said.

    "The conversation took place on possible measures to de-escalate (the crisis) including how Moscow could recognise the election of Poroshenko. The details of a ceasefire will also be discussed in coming days," the official in French President Hollande's office said, adding that they also discussed the economic consequences of the stand-off.

  • Opinion: Will the curse of oil drag down Vladimir Putin?

    We will look back at 2014 as the year Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed all his chips into the center of the table — risking everything to make Russia a world power again.

    Even his apologists now acknowledge that Putin wants to resurrect the Russian empire with most of the Soviet Union’s lost territories either incorporated into Russia, as with Crimea, or in its orbit, similar to eastern Ukraine and Belarus, as well as the Caucasian and Central Asian states. The range of Putin’s geostrategic tools is also on display: the Eurasian Union, military brawn and proxy militias in the near abroad, and Russia’s petroleum exports as the main source of income and leverage.

    A cornerstone in Putin’s power play, Russian oil and gas supplies are essential to a resurgent Russia. Only Saudi Arabia exports more oil than Russia, which boasts nearly a quarter of the world’s (non-OPEC) oil production. But Russia’s lopsided dependence on its petroleum revenues (which account for 70 percent of the country’s annual exports and 52 percent of the federal budget) undermines its political stability in the long run. Putin’s recapture of the mineral extraction industry from the private sector has hastened the country’s slide into authoritarianism and state-controlled capitalism.

    Moreover, given an unstable global market, Putin’s gambit stakes economic performance on variables beyond Moscow’s control. Unless he takes radical measures to diversify Russia’s economy in the near future, its bottom will eventually fall out, facilitating his demise.

    As witnessed in the Ukraine crisis, the clout Russia packs with its petroleum resources, at least in the short term, is undeniable. Precipitous price hikes on petroleum exports were used to discipline the unruly post-Maidan Ukrainian leaders, while Ukraine’s pre-Maidan Russian loyalists were rewarded. Russia’s leverage reverberates far beyond gas-dependent Central Europe. In March, as the United States and the European Union mulled punitive action against Moscow in the wake of the Crimea annexation, Germany’s reluctance was difficult to overlook. More than a third of its imported gas comes from Russia. And with Russia’s 30-year, $400 billion gas deal with China signed last month, Putin tried to show the U.S. that it is not the only superpower he can do business with.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • French President Hollande's office says details on arranging a ceasefire in Ukraine will be discussed in the coming days, Reuters reports.
  • According to Hollande's office, French President Hollande brought together Russian President Putin and Ukrainian President-elect Poroshenko for a 15-minute meeting, Reuters reports.

    Hollande's office says the meeting between Putin and Poroshenko opens the door to Russia recognizing the new Ukrainian president's election, according to Reuters.

    The French president's office reportedly says the Russian president and new Ukrainian president the discussed economic consequences of the crisis in Ukraine and shook hands during their short meeting.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko on Friday on the sidelines of D-Day commemorations in France as they met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Reuters reporter said.

    Western officials are hoping that informal contacts between Putin and Poroshenko during the one-day event can help ease tensions over Ukraine's future, after Russia seized and annexed the Crimea region following the ouster of a pro-Russian president in Kiev in February.

    Putin, Poroshenko and Merkel talked together as they walked into the Chateau de Benouville, in Normandy, where world leaders had lunch together, the Reuters reporter said.

    Hollande invited Poroshenko as his personal guest to the ceremonies for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, saying the event should be used to "serve the purposes of peace".

    The Reuters reporter did not, however, see any handshake between the two men. French diplomats said before the event they would see a handshake as tacit acknowledgement by Putin that he recognizes Poroshenko's legitimacy the day before he is sworn in, opening the door for dialog.


  • Russian President Putin meets with German Chancellor Merkel in France on June 6, 2014 (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin in talks on Friday that Russia had a "great responsibility" to help bring peace to Ukraine, a German government spokeswoman said.

    "In this discussion, the chancellor expressed that now, after the recognised presidential elections in Ukraine, the time must be used to bring about stabilisation, especially in eastern Ukraine," the spokeswoman said at a news conference in Berlin.

    "And in this discussion she used the opportunity to remind Russia of its great responsibility in this."

    Merkel met Putin in France on the margins of an event to mark the 70th anniversary of World War Two's D-Day landings.

  • The White House has announced the following officials will attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President-elect Poroshenko:

    President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to Ukraine to Attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Petro Poroshenko, President-elect of Ukraine


    President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to Kyiv, Ukraine to attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Petro Poroshenko, President-elect of Ukraine on June 7, 2014.


    The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Vice President of the United States, will be the head of the delegation.


    Members of the Presidential Delegation:

    The Honorable Geoffrey R. Pyatt, United States Ambassador to Ukraine, Department of State


    The Honorable John McCain, United States Senator, Arizona


    The Honorable Ron Johnson, United States Senator, Wisconsin


    The Honorable Chris Murphy, United States Senator, Connecticut


    The Honorable Marcia “Marcy” Kaptur, Member of the United States House of Representatives (OH-9)


    The Honorable Daniel B. Baer, United States Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Department of State


    The Honorable Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Department of State

  • Ukraine and Russia will restart gas talks over the weekend to try to resolve a dispute over price and Kiev is considering paying off debts for last year's Russian supplies, a government source in Kiev said on Friday.

    "The talks will continue on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We expect to come up with a decision on Tuesday," the source told Reuters, adding that the Ukrainian leadership may pay off it gas debts for 2013.

    The two sides differ on how much is owed by Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz. Ukraine has said its debt for 2013 and 2014 as of April 1 stood at $2.2 billion. It paid $786 million last week.

    Russia's top natural gas producer Gazprom declined to comment.

    Ukraine has to pay off its debts to Gazprom by Tuesday, June 10, or Russia has threatened to cut off gas supplies to the neighbouring country, a move which could threaten flows to the European Union.

  • British Prime Minister Cameron says he told Russian President Putin that the status quo in Ukraine is unacceptable and arms should be stopped from crossing the border, Reuters reports.

    The two met in France, where both are scheduled to attend D-Day commemoration events.
  • State Dept: Kerry met w/Lavrov for an hour and 20 mins today #Russia
  • Just a quiet dinner in Paris for Obama, Hollande and a few friends

  • Al Jazeera's Philip Ittner snapped a picture of Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov look rather jovial when they met in Paris Thursday.

    The pair said Ukraine should not be a 'pawn' in the power struggle between the East and the West but did acknowledge the significant differences between Moscow and Washington, The Associated Press reported after the meeting.

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday Ukraine should not be a "pawn" in a power struggle between East and West, but allowed that significant differences between Washington and Moscow could hurt efforts to prevent that.

    In unscripted remarks to reporters before meeting in Paris, Kerry and Lavrov said Moscow and Washington agree that Ukraine should be a peaceful, stable and prosperous bridge between Russia and Europe. Kerry said the U.S. wanted to see Russia embrace Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko's desire to reach out to all Ukrainians, including ethnic Russians.

    "This is an opportunity, we hope, for Russia, the United States and others, all to come together in an effort to try to make a Ukraine that is strong economically, whose sovereignty is respected, whose independence is respected but clearly is not a pawn in a tug-of-war between other nations," Kerry said.

    Ukraine, he added, should "rather (be) an independent sovereign country with the integrity of its borders and people able to act as a bridge between East and West, with trade and involvement with all parties, that's our hope," he said.

    "We hope that with Russia, together we have the ability to be able to find a way to cooperate on how to make this happen," Kerry continued. "That's our hope. There obviously are difficulties, we understand that. That's why we are meeting today to talk about them."

    Kerry spoke first. Lavrov appeared taken aback by the secretary's statement.

    But Lavrov offered his own brief comments in English, ending with a clear jab at U.S. policies in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

    "I can only subscribe to what the secretary just said," Lavrov said. "We would like to see Ukraine peaceful, stable. A place for all those who live in Ukraine ... to be feeling equal, respected, and listened to, living in peace being a bridge, not being a pawn."

    "The Russian-American agenda is much broader than just Ukraine," Lavrov added. "We would like to see other countries like Iraq, Libya, Syria, many others also to be in peace, not to be used as a pawn."

    [The Associated Press]
  • Obama, Cameron call for Putin to recognize new Ukraine president

    President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday called for Russia to open talks with the new government coming into power in Ukraine – or face continuing costs if Moscow’s provocations continue.

    Obama emerged from two days of meetings with the Group of Seven industrialized nations saying it was a chance for the gathered leaders to make sure they are in "lockstep" on a strategy amid uncertain times in Ukraine. He urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to "enter into a dialogue" with Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko, who is set to be inaugurated Saturday after winning the May 25 election.

    "Russia needs to seize that opportunity," Obama said. "Russia needs to recognize that President-elect Poroshenko is the legitimately elected leader of Ukraine and engage the government in Kiev."

    Obama spoke at a news conference with Cameron in Brussels after the two met privately following the closing of G-7 talks. Obama was heading to Paris Thursday evening for dinner with French President Francois Hollande. Ukraine will also top their agenda.

    The G-7 meeting was originally supposed to take place in Sochi, Russia – and to include Putin – but the leaders froze him out and moved the site to Brussels after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula. After an opening dinner Wednesday night, members of the group said in a joint statement that they condemn Russia's continuing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and its annexation of Crimea.

    Cameron said Russia's actions in Ukraine are at odds with the leaders' democratic values. "From the outset of this crisis, the G-7 have stood united," he said.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • President Barack Obama said on Thursday Russian President Vladimir Putin must recognize and work with Ukraine's new government and stop "provocations" along its border, or face tougher sanctions from members of the G7 group of nations.

    "We will have a chance to see what Mr. Putin does over the next two, three, four weeks, and if he remains on the current course then we've already indicated the kinds of actions that we're prepared to take," Obama told at a news conference at the end of a G7 summit.

    The president added that he would have preferred it if France had held back on the sale of Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia.

  • Obama and Cameron insist US and Europe are united against Russia, threaten further sanctions if it does not stop interfering in Ukraine.
  • Obama says since #Putin hasn't denounced the #Ukraine election, "perhaps offers the prospect that he's moving in the right direction"
  • Obama says he has no doubt that he'll see Putin in France #ObamainBelgium #G7Brussels & should they talk, Russia annexing Crimea is illegal
  • 'I have no doubt that I'll see Mr. Putin. He and I have always had a businesslike relationship,' Obama said of upcoming D-Day commemorations.

    However, he did not say there will be a formal meeting.
  • PM @David_Cameron says the message of his meeting with Putin will be that change is necessary #G7Brussels
  • On his upcoming meeting with President Putin, Cameron said it is important to have that dialogue.
  • POTUS sets timeline of "2,3,4 weeks" for sanctions if Russia "remains on it current course."
  • "Should he fail to do so though, there are going to be additional consequences" Obama on possible future sanctions (none today) #G7Brussels
  • President Obama is using his press conference to really push Putin to recognize Poroshenko as the legitimately elected leader of Ukraine, saying Poroshenko has indicated a willingness to working with Russia.

    If Russia recognizes the new government in Kiev, it can begin to rebuild trust with its international counterparts, Obama said, adding that the U.S. cannot allow 'drift.'
  • President Obama says "Putin has the chance to get back into a lane of international law" #G7Brussels #ObamainBelgium
  • POTUS on French warship sale to Russia: "I have expressed some concerns...on continuing with defense deals."
  • What we have NOT heard as a condition to avoid sanctions: Leaving Crimea.
  • PM Cameron: If Putin doesn't stop arms flow; recognize May 25 election, stop support for destabilizing groups..will face stricter sanctions
  • From the outset of this crisis, the G-7 nations have stood united, clear in support for the Ukrainian people and opposed to Russia's actions — that's why Russia no longer has a seat at the table, Britain's Cameron said at the joint press conference with President Obama.

    Cameron also called on Putin to recognize the election of Poroshenko.
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