Putin and Porosenko shake hands in France

The leaders of Russia and Ukraine met on Friday for the first time since Moscow annexed Crimea as world leaders commemorated the 70th anniversary of the World War Two D-Day landings in France.

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel brought together Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko for a 15-minute meeting before an official lunch for visiting world dignitaries.  Hollande’s office said the two men shook hands and agreed that detailed talks on a ceasefire between Kiev government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine would begin within a few days.

They also discussed political steps to de-escalate the crisis including Russian recognition of Poroshenko’s election as well as economic relations. “It was a normal, serious exchange between two leaders,” an official in Hollande’s office said, adding that the meeting had been prepared by several days of contacts but kept secret until it happened. “This marks tentative progress which he (Hollande) welcomes, particularly given this occasion so symbolic for peace.