Ukrainian soldiers load a Grad missile during fighting with pro-Russian separatists close to Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, on Monday. Dozens of civilians were killed Monday when separatist rebels shelled a convoy of refugees trying to flee war-torn eastern Ukraine, a top Ukrainian official said. A top rebel chief said no such attack had occurred. (Petro Zadorozhnyy/The Associated Press)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will meet next week in Minsk in their first face-to-face talks since June.
According to statements from their offices, the two leaders will hold bilateral talks while attending a regional summit in the Belarus capital that will include representatives of the European Commission and the Eurasian Customs union, which is made up of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
"(The leaders) will discuss the relations between Ukraine and the Customs Union and there will be a number of bilateral meetings," said Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, according to the ITAR-TASS Russian news agency.
The news agency said the two presidents will "discuss the humanitarian disaster in eastern Ukraine."
Poroshenko said in a message on his website that topics will include the "Association Agreement" between Ukraine and the European Union, which was been a major source of contention between Kiev and the Kremlin, as well as energy security and a "stabilization of the situation" in eastern Ukraine.
The death toll in fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Kiev's forces in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 2,000 lives.
The announcement of a meeting between the two men comes as the Ukrainian military has surrounded Donetsk and Luhansk, two key strongholds of the separatists.
Ukraine and Russia are also locked in a dispute over a Russian humanitarian aid convoy that has stopped at the Ukrainian-Russian border awaiting final arrangements for the International Red Cross to distribute the goods in hard-hit areas of eastern Ukraine.