Kiev says Putin open to peacekeeping mission in east Ukraine
The Ukrainian presidency on Thursday said Russian President Vladimir Putin was open to the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in war-torn eastern Ukraine, after the leaders of both countries spoke by phone with their French and German counterparts.
“In the context of the discussion of ways towards a peaceful resolution (of the conflict), President Putin has accepted the possibility of deploying a peacekeeping contingent to the Donbass region,” the presidency said in a statement.
Moscow however made no mention of a possible peacekeeping force in its own statement issued after the talks.
The leaders “noted certain progress on issues of how to ensure a ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons in the conflict zone,” the Kremlin statement said.
The French presidency also made no mention of peacekeepers, saying in a statement that the parties had reviewed the implementation of the peace accords and “considered areas for improvement”.
In February, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel helped broker a peace deal for Ukraine in a last-ditch effort to stop months of fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Kiev forces.
Despite the Minsk ceasefire deal, European observers say both sides are still exchanging fire in the east.
The conflict has killed more than 6,000 people in the past year and displaced a million, according to the United Nations.
Ukraine’s pro-Western President Petro Poroshenko has repeatedly called for an international peacekeeping mission to his country.
But Kiev’s European and US allies appear reluctant to send weapons or troops to Ukraine for fear of escalating the conflict, which has damaged their relations with Moscow.