Putin talks with Ukraine’s leader, fighting widens

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — There have been no one-on-one meetings today between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko, although they did sit down with other leaders in Belarus for their first face-to-face meeting since June.

From their opening remarks, however, it appeared unlikely that they would find common ground.

Poroshenko said the purpose of his visit was to start searching for a political compromise to end the fighting between his troops and pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine. He promised that the interests of Russian speakers in that region would be taken into account.

But Putin devoted most of his opening remarks to trade. He argued that Ukraine’s decision to sign an agreement with the 28-nation EU would lead to huge losses for Russia, which would then be forced to protect its economy.

Russia had been hoping Ukraine would join a rival economic union it is forming with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

As for the fighting, Putin said it can’t be ended simply by military force, and without considering what he called “the vital interests of the southeast of the country.”

Today’s meeting came as Ukraine said it had captured 10 Russian soldiers in eastern Ukraine. The fighting, meanwhile, spread to a new front in the southeast.

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APPHOTO XSG125: People cook lunch in front of the entrance to the bomb shelter after the shelling in Petrovskiy district in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. On Tuesday several shells hit the local market and nearby houses during the mortar duel between Pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian army. (AP Photo/Mstislav Chernov) (26 Aug 2014)

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APPHOTO XAZ109: Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, as Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, center, looks at them, prior to their talks after after posing for a photo in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Leaders of Russia, Belarus, two other former Soviet republics as well as top EU officials are meeting in Minsk, Belarus, for a highly anticipated summit to discuss the crisis in Ukraine which has left more than 2,000 dead and displaced over 300,000 people. (AP Photo/Kazakh Presidential Press Service, Sergei Bondarenko, Pool) (26 Aug 2014)

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