NEWPORT, Wales (AP) — A White House official says President Barack Obama and four European leaders expressed solidarity with Ukraine today in a meeting with that country's president, and agreed that Russia should be punished for its conduct in Ukraine.
Obama and the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Italy sat down with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko as NATO leaders meet in Wales.
Poroshenko is also meeting today with the heads of state and government from all 28 NATO member states. But NATO officials have made it clear that membership for Ukraine isn't in the cards anytime soon.
Today's meetings come as Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine appear increasingly close to signing a deal to end four months of fighting. Ukraine's president says he's ready to order a cease-fire tomorrow if a peace deal is signed at talks in Belarus. And the rebels say they're ready to declare a truce if there's an agreement on a political settlement for the region.
But Russia's foreign minister says Ukraine's desire to join NATO is "a blatant attempt to derail all the efforts" to seek a peaceful solution in Ukraine.
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