Putin, Zelenskiy Meet In Bid To Bring Peace To Eastern Ukraine

President Trump Chuck Todd interviews Sen. John Kennedy right on “Meet the Press” on Sunday

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The talks will be the first opportunity for Putin, a former intelligence officer, and Zelenskiy, a successful television mogul and comedian, to size one another up.

Relations between two countries collapsed following pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich's escape to Russia and Moscow's annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, which prompted Western sanctions on Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made his latest address to the nation this week in the gym, then posted it on Facebook. A month later, the head of Zelensky's Servant of the People party in parliament stated that the goal of meeting with Putin was for Ukraine "to get away from the Minsk agreements", which he said were "enslaving" the country. Both sides have accused one another of violating the cease-fire.

The "Minsk accord" is a ceasefire pact drawn up in 2016 in the Belarusian capital which calls for autonomy for the Russia-occupied regions and amnesty for anti-Ukrainian fighters in return for Russia's withdrawal from Ukraine. "The war can not be ended without negotiations".

On Sunday, Pope Francis said he was praying for the talks to bring peace "to that territory and its population".

Zelenskiy has proven an able and optimistic politician, manufacturing a landslide election victory and a parliamentary majority, and navigating a gauntlet of domestic and worldwide pressure since his inauguration in May. They are not satisfied with less than complete independence and long-term affiliation with Russian Federation.

Another topic is agreeing on a calendar for elections in the eastern regions under Ukrainian law with the two regions enjoying special status.

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A complication going into the talks was Zelensky's recent criticism of aspects of the peace deal road map.

Zelensky's polling took a major hit after the prisoner swaps were agreed to.

"I don't know, nor do you, nor do any others", he replied.

But Zelensky has ruled out military action to recover eastern Ukraine. The pollsters noted that Zelensky's handling of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, along with some unpopular reforms, was part of the reason why the president's support fell so rapidly.

The New York Times said Giuliani had traveled to Budapest on Tuesday and Kiev Wednesday to speak with former Ukrainian prosecutors who could have information that would support Trump's battle against impeachment. "Putin will make a decision. This needs to be created before we can move forward", said the source, who asked not to be named.

Many Ukrainians are concerned that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a political novice, could be out-maneuvered by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit on Monday in Paris.

But the fact that Putin and Zelensky met at all was a significant step, after years of war.

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"Don't trust Putin. Never".

Some Republican lawmakers continue to misleadingly say that the government of Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election on the same level as Russian Federation, despite the GOP-led committee looking into the matter and finding little to support the allegation.

Many people were pessimistic of a breakthrough in the talks.

Some Ukrainians fear Zelensky will be out-maneuvered by Putin.

"It was a signal that Russian Federation is ready for a conversation", Zelenskiy said during a TV talk show.

Speaking to CNN, Graham said that "I've got no doubt that it was the Russians who stole the DNC emails".

"It doesn't matter what kind of solution it will be. It is possible these arguments will translate into protests in the streets of Kyiv", he said.

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Minister Lavrov stressed that Germany and France should make clear to Ukraine that the Minsk agreements are the only way towards ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine. And, German Chancellor Merkel has strongly supported maintaining sanctions on Russian Federation.

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