Putin to travel to Minsk talks raising hopes of a deal over Ukraine

By Joanna Gill | With REUTERS, AFPFollow @jogillette President Putin has confirmed he is travelling to Minsk for crucial peace talks with Ukrainian, French and German leaders. The presence of the leaders has raised a sliver of hope that a deal may be brokered after a Russian diplomatic source said, “The presidents aren’t travelling for no reason.” The talks hinge on re-establishing a ceasefire that lasts, the withdrawal of heavy weapons and Kyiv’s consent to give autonomy to Russian-speaking regions, a crucial points for the pro-Russian rebels on the eve of the summit. A failure to reach a deal could lead to an escalation of the conflict which has already claimed 5,000 lives since it began in April last year.

The meeting is being seen as a last ditch diplomatic push, as the US considers sending weapons to Kyiv, though last night Obama emphasised the need for a political solution in a phone call with Putin.

By Joanna Gill | With REUTERS, AFP

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