Russia-Ukraine talks ‘possible’

Following Ukraine’s presidential elections, direct bilateral dialogue between Ukraine and Russia “is possible” Ukraine Ambassador Volodymyr Khandogiy told Embassy, but only on condition that talks include the issue of “the illegal annexation of Crimea”.

He added Ukraine was ready for talks with Russia, EU and the US to discuss ways to stabilise the situation in the East. President Poroshenko was also prepared to negotiate with “peaceful protesters” but not terrorists.

Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko tweeted that Moscow was ready for “pragmatic and equal dialogue” with President Poroshenko, but not with Western mediation.

He urged President Poroshenko to cease army operations in Southeast Ukraine and begin constitutional reform.

Ambassador Yakovenko also called for humanitarian assistance for the victims of the military operations and for the involvement of the UN Secretary General to bring violence in the Southeast Ukraine to an end.

However, Ambassador Khandogiy said the immediate stabilisation of internal situation in Eastern Ukraine was “the first priority” for President Poroshenko, adding that operations in Eastern Ukraine would be continued “to stop terrorist activities of gangs supported by Russia” who were a threat to citizens.

On Ukraine’s future direction, he said almost 90 per cent of the electorate had voted for candidates who support European integration. However, he noted that in some regions of Eastern Ukraine were unable to vote due to violence and intimidation.

But he said the “exceptional turnout” represented the readiness of Ukrainians “to protect their native land from the existing threats, their desire for peace, a European future and demonstrated absolute rejection of Russian aggression against Ukraine.”