French President François Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to discuss Ukraine on June 5 in Paris, one day before the Allies commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. It will be the first time a Western leader has met with Putin since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in mid-March.
Yury Ushakov, a presidential aide, said the leaders would discuss “various multilateral international questions including the Ukraine crisis.”
Talks with other world leaders were likely, but would be arranged “on the hoof” he said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said if he can meet with Putin he will, but there is no word if President Obama or German Chancellor Angela Merkel will make time for Putin.
Hollande also invited Ukraine’s President-elect Petro Poroshenko to the D-Day celebrations. From the Associated Press:
President Francois Hollande spoke by phone on Wednesday with Petro Poroshenko, congratulating him for his first-round victory in Ukraine’s election Sunday and saying it “opens the way to a peaceful and political way out of the crisis.”
D-Day on the Normandy beaches was the turning point in World War II. Victory may not have happened if the Allies did not have the Soviet Army holding off the Germans in the east. Many acknowledge Russia’s sacrifice and help in World War II, including French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
“How can you not invite the president of a people who left 9 million dead in the battle against Nazism,” he said. “The landings in Normandy would never have been possible without the eastern front.”
The D-Day commemoration will occur after the Group of Seven leaders, which include Cameron, Hollande, Merkel, and Obama, meet in Brussels. The meeting was originally scheduled in Sochi, Russia, but the G-8 suspended Russia and moved the meeting to Brussels due to the crisis in Ukraine.