Putin to Meet Ukrainian and Armenian Presidents in Sochi

MOSCOW (AFP)–Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet with his Ukrainian and Armenian counterparts this week in the Black Sea resort of Sochi–where he is currently on holiday–the Kremlin said Monday.

Putin is due to hold talks Wednesday with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Friday with Armenian President Robert Kocharian–a Kremlin spokeswoman told AFP Monday.

Putin’s meeting with Kuchma comes on the heels of a decision by Ukraine to sign a three-year contract with the Russian-British oil company TNK-BP to carry Siberian oil through the Odessa-Brody pipeline.

The move thwarted European hopes that the pipeline would export oil from Central Asia and the Caspian Sea to Europe–but was welcomed by the Kremlin.

Analysts said the move was the latest in a series that have seen the former Soviet republic lurch back toward Moscow–after spending most of the post-Soviet years reaching out toward the West–ahead of presidential elections in October 31.

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