Sunday

13th Jun 2021

Putin-Poroshenko meeting raises EU hopes

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Petro Poroshenko in France is a “good sign” which amounts to “de facto recognition” of Ukraine’s new, pro-Western leader, EU sources say.

The two men met on their way into a VIP lunch at the Chateau de Benouville in Normandy at a D-Day anniversary on Friday (6 June), where they spoke for one minute together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Hollande called German people 'victims of Nazism' and paid tribute to Soviet people and soldiers (Photo: elysee.fr)

They then held a 15-minute long tete-a-tete inside the venue. The office of the French President says they spoke about Russia’s potential recognition of Poroshenko and about the possibility of a ceasefire between pro-Russia fighters and Ukrainian forces in east Ukraine.

Russia’s formal recognition of Ukraine’s 25 May presidential election is one of the EU and US conditions for normalising relations.

Putin and Poroshenko, who served in past Ukrainian governments, have met several times before. But for the EU, their first face-to-face talks since the crisis are a good omen.

“We have to see what comes out of this beyond words and what happens afterward. But it’s obviously a good sign that they are talking and it also amounts to a de facto recognition by Russia of Ukraine’s next president,” a contact in the EU delegation in Benouville told EUobserver.

US leader Barack Obama also spoke with Putin on Friday in their first face-to-face meeting since the crisis.

The opportunity for leaders to mingle in France has raised hopes of a breakthrough in EU circles.

Putin also held separate talks with Merkel, with French President Francois Hollande, and with British PM David Cameron on Thursday evening.

Not all of the meetings were cordial.

Official French photos showed Hollande greeting the Russian leader with a friendly handshake. But official Russian photos of Merkel showed her frowning.

Her office said Russia bears the “greatest responsibility” for ending the violence.

Cameron told press “this was a meeting with a very clear and firm set of messages … the situation today is not acceptable and it needs to change. It needs the Russians to properly recognise and work with the new president. It needs de-escalation. We need to stop arms and people crossing the border.”

The D-Day solemnities paid tribute to the more than 4,000 allied soldiers who died in the landings on 6 June 1944.

VIPs and veterans assembled at the d’Ouistreham beach in Normandy on Friday for the main event.

There was a moment of levity when a giant TV wall showed, in split screen, Obama and Putin’s faces, prompting both men to smile and a ripple of laughter in the crowd.

Hollande, in his keynote speech, called for d’Ouistreham to be listed by the UN’s heritage organisation, Unesco, as a lesson for future generations.

“To the veterans, the survivors, who are here with us today, in the same place they landed 70 years ago, where they fought, where they struggled, where they were wounded, I would like to extend, in the name of France, a brotherly salute … If we can live today in peace, in security, in sovereignty, under the rule of the law which we have willed, it’s thanks to them and to those who gave their lives,” he said.

He listed the allied countries which took part in the D-Day landings.

He said “German people” were also “victims of Nazism”.

Amid increasingly hostile rhetoric between Western countries and Russia, he added, to applause: “I want to salute the courage of the Red Army, which, far from here also fought … and the people of the Soviet Union. We are also in debt to them for what they did for the sake of our liberty.”

With Putin and Poroshenko sitting four chairs apart in the front row of the audience, and with Russia’s attack on Ukraine having already cost dozens of lives, Hollande said: “If we have been chosen as heads of state or government, it is to serve peace and to find solutions so that conflicts do not degenerate into wars”.

“The memory of the dead creates obligations for the living.”

News in Brief

  1. EU top court fast-tracks rule-of-law case to October
  2. Hungary's Fidesz wants to ban LGBTIQ content for under-18s
  3. MEPs join EU citizens on farm-animal cage ban
  4. Council of Europe urges Russia to release Navalny 'immediately'
  5. China's anti-sanctions law alarms EU businesses
  6. Airlines seek to water down EU passengers' rights
  7. EU leaders join call for further probe into Covid origins
  8. Liberal MEPs under fire over Babiš abstention

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU urges Poland to step back from 'legal primacy' clash
  2. Pressure builds on EU to back WTO vaccine-patent waiver
  3. EU anti-fraud agency cracked down on fake pandemic supplies
  4. MEP office expenses kept secret on dubious evidence
  5. What the EU public think of EU pesticide regulation
  6. MEPs set to take EU Commission to court on rule-of-law
  7. EU takes legal action against Germany on bonds ruling
  8. MEPs demand new EU biodiversity law by next year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us