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‘Frank’ discussion on Ukraine: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin
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Russian President Vladimir Putin says his “very frank” discussions with other G20 leaders on the war in Ukraine have been “helpful”.

Mr Putin was under pressure over Ukraine at the G20 summit in Brisbane, with European countries, the USA, Australia and Japan all condemning its actions in the former Soviet satellite state.

While Ukraine wasn’t mentioned during the official sessions of the summit, it did dominate bilateral discussions with other leaders, Mr Putin revealed.

Putin left in social Siberia
• Australia, USA, Japan line up against Russia

His talks on Ukraine with European leaders were “very frank, very substantive and, I think, helpful”.

“I think we were able to get to a point where we understand each other better,” he said during a press conference before departing Australia for Moscow.

“We have our motives and I think that our partners were able to express their concerns to me. I think this will help us.”

Mr Putin said he wanted to work together with Ukraine “as soon as possible” on resolving difficulties, and could see “some promising trends right now”, which gave him hope of making progress.

Overnight on Saturday, Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko issued decrees withdrawing state services in pro-Russian regions and also asked the country’s central bank to shut down all bank services in the region.

Mr Putin accused Kiev of imposing an “economic blockade” on the breakaway Russian-speaking regions of Lugansk and Donetsk.

“I think this is a big mistake, because what they are doing is cutting away those territories from their country,” he said. “Why they are doing it I don’t understand.”

Moscow plans to discuss the blockade with President Poroshenko.

Mr Putin was the first major leader to leave Brisbane shortly before summit host Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivered the G20’s final communique.

“It will take me nine hours to Vladivostok and another nine to Moscow,” he said.

“On Monday morning I have to go to work and I need four to five hours’ sleep.”

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