Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the United Nations Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday. The two leaders have had cool relations throughout their terms in office, but Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine and Syria has raised U.S. concerns to levels not seen in years.
U.S. officials told Reuters that Putin had requested the meeting. “Given the situations in Ukraine and Syria, despite our profound differences with Moscow, the president believes that it would be irresponsible not to test whether we can make progress through high-level engagement with the Russians,” a U.S. official told Reuters. “President Obama will take advantage of this meeting to discuss Ukraine, and he will be focused on ensuring Moscow lives up to the Minsk commitments. This will be the core message of this bilateral engagement.” The Minsk peace agreement was signed in February, but has failed to end the conflict in Ukraine.
Both Obama and Putin, among other world leaders, are scheduled to speak Monday during the morning session of the U.N.’s 70th General Assembly. Obama will be fourth to speak with Putin expected to speak eighth. It was unclear when the bilateral talks would take place.