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Putin set to embrace closer ties between EU and Ukraine

Putin set to embrace closer ties between EU and Ukraine
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Germany’s visiting foreign minister that he would welcome closer economic ties between the European Union and Ukraine.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met Putin and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

Putin’s reported remarks appear to contradict Lavrov’s earlier comment accusing the EU of looking to create a “sphere of infuence”.

Lavrov said the EU is putting Ukraine under pressure to choose closer ties with the bloc at the expense of relations with Russia.

As protesters continued to maintain a presence in Kyiv’s Independence Square, the German and Russian ministers discussed the possibility of mandating an international organisation to mediate between the conflicting sides in Ukraine.

Germany sees the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which counts Russia, Ukraine and the EU countries as members, as best-placed for this role. Ukraine would need to specifically request such mediation.