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AKIPRESS.COM - Political analysts in Kyiv believe that the participation of EU officials and the Customs Union states in the meeting between Presidents Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin will strengthen Ukraine's position, possibly starting negotiations and de-escalating the conflict in the east.
Initially, the agenda of the meeting included only questions related to the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, but the Ukrainian side was able to expand the plan to include the issues of energy security, as well as the ongoing conflict.
"The whole world is tired of war," Poroshenko told reporters on Thursday, during his working trip to Mykolaiv. "Ukraine wants peace. On August 26th, I, along with a powerful team of three high representatives of the EU, will go to Minsk to talk about peace. Ukraine will call for the withdrawal of militants from its territory. We can do this."
Officials in Moscow said the negotiations will have a positive result.
"The Minsk meeting is one of the stages on the way to de-escalate the conflict," Sergei Naryshkin, the Russian State Duma chairman, told reporters on Thursday.
Experts said the meeting brings "risks and opportunities."
Oleksiy Haran, a professor of political science at the University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, believes that these negotiations won't lead to a radical change of the situation, but de-escalation of the conflict can begin with the active participation of the West. Everything will depend on the situation in the east of Ukraine at the time of meeting, he said.
"In military terms, the Ukrainian army has winning positions now, despite all the sacrifices. And it's obvious," Haran told SETimes. "But at the same time, our victory may lead Putin to escalate the conflict. And we've already seen this. He's sending more and more military equipment in Ukraine. We need diplomatic efforts on all fronts."
Ihor Semyvolos, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies, said Russia "is not the one to trust," but still believes that negotiations are necessary. "An agreement with Russia is not worth the paper it is written on," Semyvolos told SETimes. "The key question for the Russians is to reach a truce at any cost. But not because they want peace, because they need to regroup terrorists, send new militants and implement a counter-offensive. The humanitarian convoy was created for this purpose. The Russians can't be trusted. But, unfortunately, they are our neighbours, and we have to somehow negotiate."
"The main thing," Haran said, "is not to get trapped by the Kremlin and keep our eyes peeled."
Political analysts believe that the participation of Belarus and Kazakhstan in the meeting will strengthen Ukraine's position.
"It is possible that Belarus and Kazakhstan will express their dissatisfaction with the situation and sanctions imposed by Russia against Europe. They absolutely don't like it, and their vision on this issue differs from Moscow's," Semyvolos said.