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Putin To Discuss Ukraine, Custom's Union With C.I.S. Leaders

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on May 7, 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on May 7, 2014.
The Kremlin says Ukraine’s crisis and “collective security” will be the focus of talks in Moscow on May 8 between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

But resistance of some countries to join a Russian-led Customs Union also reportedly is on the agenda of some of the visiting leaders' talks with Putin.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the visiting presidents would have an informal meeting together with Putin, but also would each meet separately with the Russian president to discuss "bilateral relations."

He said they also plan to attend what the Kremlin is describing as a training exercise for Russian military forces.

The gathering comes a day after Putin called on pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to postpone referendums on self-determination scheduled for May 11.

Putin also described a planned May 25 presidential election in Ukraine -- previously condemned by the Kremlin -- as a "move in the right direction."

In Washington, the White House responded to Putin's statement by saying the local referendums should be canceled, not just postponed.

The office of Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambaev, who arrived in Moscow on May 7, says Atambaev was likely to discuss Kyrgyzstan’s prospects of joining a Russian-led Customs Union during his bilateral meeting with the Russian president.

Atambaev's aide, Sapar Isakov said "consultations" over Kyrgyzstan's potential accession to the group have been under way for five days, and that the details "are now being elaborated."

Earlier, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Joomart Otorbaev said his government was seeking to postpone Kyrgyzstan's potential membership in the Custom's Union.

Otorbaev said the road map for Kyrgyzstan to join the Customs Union is not ready yet.

Otorbaev said that road map must be debated and approved by the Kyrgyz people before it is adopted by the government.

He said it would then be sent for approval by the Custom Union's member states -- Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.

Armenia also has been in talks with Russia on details that Yerevan wants resolved in connection with its proposed membership in the Russian-led Customs Union.
Based on reports by Reuters, AP, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz service, Itar-Tass, Interfax, Vestnik Kavkaza, and Rossia-24 TV

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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