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Russia hopes ‘positive signals’ over Ukraine will be heard

Russia on Wednesday said it hoped Kiev and the international community will heed the “positive signals” it was sending over the Ukraine crisis after President Vladimir Putin moved to scrap the option to invade.

“We are counting on the positive signals that the Russian president is now sending being heard across the world and, above all, in Ukraine,” Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told Russian news agencies.

Putin on Tuesday asked senators to revoke a March 1 resolution allowing him to send troops into Ukraine in a surprise turnabout welcomed by Kiev as his “first practical step” towards helping quell a separatist rebellion in the east of the ex-Soviet country.

Russia’s rubber-stamp upper chamber appears certain to approve the demand in a vote later Wednesday.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse the Kremlin of fuelling the fighting in Ukraine and US President Barack Obama has warned Putin that Moscow could be facing a slew of tougher sanctions if it does not move to defuse the crisis.

Putin has urged Kiev to extend a shaky one-week truce with insurgents and launch direct talks despite the rebels shooting down a Ukrainian helicopter on Tuesday, killing all nine on board.

Ukraine’s new Western-backed President Petro Poroshenko has warned that he could cancel the ceasefire to allow government forces to retaliate.