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27 August 2014

A Most Uncomfortable Handshake

Putin and Poroshenko

“The fate of Ukraine and the fate of Europe are being decided in Minsk today.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met face-to-face in Minsk, Belarus, on Tuesday, the pair’s first bi-lateral meeting to discuss the bloody fighting in eastern Ukraine that has gripped the region since June.

Putin is on the left, Poroshenko on the right, and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko in the middle.

In opening remarks, Poroshenko cast the the talks as an important step towards reaching a political compromise between the two warring countries. “The fate of peace and the fate of Europe are being decided in Minsk today,” Poroshenko said, NBC reported.

Putin, on the other hand, spent his opening remarks largely focusing on trade, according to NBC.
Putin also told his counterpart that the current standoff in east Ukraine could not be solved without including representatives of Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east. Ukraine has accused Russia of supporting pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine in part to destabilize Poroshenko’s recently elected government.

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev and European Union Vice-President Catherine Ashton also attended the much-hyped meeting.

The Ukraine crisis has left more than 2,000 dead, displaced over 300,000 people, and threatened to ignite the region in the biggest conflict since the Cold War, with the U.S. and Europe siding with Ukraine against an ever-expansionist Russia.

Then came the day’s big event — the hand shake.

And Yep! That look really happened.