After weeks of escalating tensions and media information wars, Russian president Vladimir Putin finally sat down with his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, to figure out just exactly what is happening on the border between their two countries.
The two men met in Minsk, the capital of neighboring Belarus, in a summit overseen by the EU's Catherine Ashton and ... Kazakhstani dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev. The AP's Nataliya Vasilyeva was there to cover the meeting, but the press didn't get many details:
So the Poroshenko-Putin meeting is over. No details. Putin has yet got a meeting with Nazarbayev and Lukashenko.— Nataliya Vasilyeva (@NatVasilyevaAP) August 26, 2014
The Ukrainian delegation has just left. Poroshenko's spox Tsegolko told me Poroshenko will be meeting Ashton at the Ukr embassy tonight.— Nataliya Vasilyeva (@NatVasilyevaAP) August 26, 2014
Tsegolko declined to provide any details of the meeting but asked re Lukashenko's statement 1/2— Nataliya Vasilyeva (@NatVasilyevaAP) August 26, 2014
That talks could continue tomorrow, Tsegolko said: no, we're leaving.— Nataliya Vasilyeva (@NatVasilyevaAP) August 26, 2014
Putin to reporters: "positive meeting," yet no results.— Nataliya Vasilyeva (@NatVasilyevaAP) August 26, 2014
"I understand that all players who’ve been drawn into the situation would like to exit with dignity," Poroshenko said before the meeting, also calling for respect of Ukraine's territorial integrity. "I’m ready to discuss different options that would allow such an exit strategy — an exit to a peaceful future for Ukraine, an exit to a peaceful future for Europe."
As for Putin ...
Tensions along the border have been growing steadily worse in recent days. This weekend, while Kiev held a military parade, pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk paraded Ukrainian POWs through the streets and washed the roads with soap as they passed. (They were trying to re-create this 1944 spectacle, because Ukrainians are the SS.)
Ukraine, meanwhile, says it has captured Russian soldiers who crossed into the country illegally and posted interrogation videos online. In the videos, a 18-year-old soldier says he didn't know anything, except that he was going on a three-day mission. Russia acknowledged that its troops had been captured, but claimed they crossed into the neighboring country "by accident."
Reports of Russian troops and armored vehicles crossing into Ukraine continue. Cities like Mariupol bear the brunt of the fighting: