A Kremlin spokesman told Russian reporters on Friday that Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko agree that an immediate cease-fire is crucial to furthering the peace process in Ukraine.
The informal conversation between the Russian and Ukrainian leaders took place during the 70th anniversary commemoration of World War II’s D-Day landings. The two men spoke informally during some downtime at the ceremonies, the spokesman said.
“During their brief conversation, both Putin and Poroshenko spoke in favor of stopping the bloodshed in southeastern Ukraine as soon as possible, as well as about [the need] for both sides -- the Ukrainian military forces and Ukrainian federalization supporters -- to cease hostilities,” Dmitri Peskov, Putin's spokesman, told RIA Novosti.
The two agreed there was “no alternative than to settle the situation through peaceful political means,” according to Peskov.
The meeting is seen as Russia’s informal recognition of the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government.
Reporters say they saw Poroshenko, Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have a brief but apparently lively conversation during a lunch break at the ceremonies. Merkel was also seen “shuttling back and forth” between Putin and Poroshenko at a separate commemoration at Sword Beach.
Putin also met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the gathering in France. Peskov said the two “spoke for the need to end violence and fighting as quickly as possible.”
On Thursday, Obama said that if Putin didn't meet with Poroshenko and continued “a strategy of undermining the sovereignty of Ukraine,” then he would respond with further sanctions against Putin and Russia, but Putin expressed a willingness to talk with both Obama and Poroshenko earlier this week.
The D-Day commemoration brought together 18 world leaders and has proven a crucial catalyst for direct international dialogue over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.