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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 308
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Kazakh Leader Nazarbayev Visits Kiev
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Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has autocratically held onto power in Kazakhstan since the collapse of the Soviet Union, has met with President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev today.

Russia's state-owned TASS news agency reports that Nazarbayev stressed the importance of the Minsk agreement with regards to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Interestingly the English version of TASS' report has Nazarbayev referring to the war in the Donbass as "an organised civil war" which seems to suggest he is pointing a finger at outside influences, we cannot see this line (or the wider comment from which it is taken) in any Russian-language reports on the meeting.

The Minsk agreements should be the only foundation for settling the crisis in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his Kazakhstani counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev told a joint briefing on Monday.

“We firmly agreed to stick to the policy and practice of the Minsk agreements as the foundation for settling the crisis in eastern Ukraine. We are following them,” the two presidents said.

“The position of sovereignty and territorial integrity is inviolable. The whole world is going to mobilize efforts to ensure the peace process on the basis of the Minsk agreements,” Poroshenko said.

President Nazarbayev, in turn, noted that the Minsk agreements were supported by all the sides in conflict and that good and, more importantly, solvable questions were written down in them.

“What happened in Ukraine is terrible. No one could have imagined in the worst of dreams that a conflict and an organized civil war will break out inside the country,” Nazarbayev said.

The Kazakhstani president confirmed that he and President Poroshenko had had an open and friendly discussion on the situation in Ukraine’s Donbas region.

“I know the positions of Ukraine, Russia and Europe. Confrontation and sanctions is a road to nowhere. There is a way out of this situation and it should be used as soon as possible,” Nazarbayev added.

Interfax-Ukraine reports that Nazarbayev urged Russia and Ukraine to reach a compromise, but insisted on the importance of Ukraine's territorial integrity:

"I am asking Russia and Ukraine to think about a compromise in order to end this conflict and preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine, because this situation [the Donbass conflict] is nonsense and it should not have happened."

The Ukrainian and Kazakh leaders also announced two deals between their states. Firstly, Nazarbayev said that Ukrainian power stations would receive coal from Kazakhstan's Ekibastuz mines.

Secondly, President Poroshenko announced that Ukraine and Kazakhstan would "fully resume military-technical cooperation."

Nazarbayev's visit comes the day after that of another leader of a state within the Russian-led Customs Union: Aleksandr Lukashenko, dictator of Belarus.

RFE/RL noted yesterday that both leaders, despite their political and economic ties to Russia, appeared to be making moves to appear friendly to Ukraine.

A senior Ukranian government source told AFP that both Lukashenka and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev -- due in Kiev on Monday -- were now trying to make amends for deciding to join a political and economic union led by Moscow.

Russia is lurching through a financial crisis sparked by a plunge in the price of its oil exports and a punitive freeze on its firms' ability to raise money on US and EU markets.

But Lukashenka in particular has been shunned by the West for his intolerance of dissent and establishment of what Washington once dubbed "the last dictatorship in Europe".

Lukashenka and Nazarbaev "have sensed that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is weak," the senior Ukrainian source said.

"They would like to see Ukraine help them improve relations with Europe."

Ukraine's UNIAN news agency reported today that President Poroshenko said that the Belarusian and Kazakh leaders had coordinated their actions with Ukraine, prior to heading to Moscow, where the two leaders are to attend a trade meeting with President Putin.

Translation: Et tu, Brute!

Meanwhile Alexei Pushkov, the head of the International Affairs Committee of the Russian Duma, tweeted that Lukashenko should beware any warming relationship with the West:

Translation: Milosevic, Gaddafi and S. Hussein tried to befriend the USA. Their fate is well known. Now the USA is offering Lukashenko a "new relationship." A dangerous track record...

-- Pierre Vaux