- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The leaders of Britain, France and Germany all plan to meet with President Vladimir Putin later this week at events marking the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landing, but the White House says President Obama has no plans to talk with the Russian leader.

Mr. Obama is in Brussels for a meeting with the other members of the G7 — a gathering that originally was to happen in Sochi, Russia, but was moved amid Russia’s meddling in Ukraine.

Other world leaders seem eager to meet with Mr. Putin face to face in an effort to resolve the Ukrainian crisis, but Mr. Obama, as of now, will avoid any one-on-one interaction.

“We have no plans to meet with President Putin, although as we’ve said, obviously we’ll be in the same venue as him at the lunch at the ceremony at Normandy. So there will certainly be the opportunity for leaders to interact in that context,” said Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser.

The administration also offered thinly veiled words of caution to British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande as they prepare to meet with Mr. Putin.

“We all have to speak with one voice, that insofar as President Putin is having any discussions, we should be aligned in our support for Ukraine, our insistence that there be a reduction of tensions, that Russia not support the type of destabilizing activities that we see from these separatists,” Mr. Rhodes said.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Obama announced a new $5 million aid package to the Ukrainian military as it battles pro-Russian activists still fomenting unrest in eastern parts of the country.

The money is to be used for night-vision goggles, body armor and other non-lethal aid.

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