Russian President Vladimir Putin focused on trade issues in his first comments at peace talks on Ukraine on Tuesday, threatening to scrap trade preferences with its neighbor if Kiev follows through on its plans to pursue closer relations with Europe.
Mr. Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met for the first time in two months at the hotly awaited talks in Minsk, Belarus. They were joined by officials from the European Union, Belarus and Kazakhstan, all of whom stressed the need to end the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine, where an estimated 2,000 people have been killed since the onset of fighting in April.
"Today in Minsk, without any question, the fate of the world and the fate of Europe are being decided," Mr. Poroshenko said.
Mr. Putin, however, stressed trade issues, highlighting the dangers he said Russia faces if Ukraine pursues closer ties to the West. Since the onset of the crisis, Mr. Putin has accused the West of meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs, and trying to spoil its relations with Russia by luring it into an association agreement