MOSCOW : Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday called for Ukraine’s truce to be extended and for new talks between Kiev and separatists, just hours before the current ceasefire expires.
“Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of extending a ceasefire as well as creating a reliable mechanism to control the observance of the truce with an active role of the OSCE,” the Kremlin said in a statement after Putin held talks with his French counterpart Francois Hollande, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
“The leaders spoke out in favour of organising a third round of consultations between representatives of Kiev and southeastern regions,” the statement said.
The four countries’ foreign ministers have been told to hold urgent talks to work out the practicalities following the four-way teleconference, the Kremlin added.
Paris said for its part that Putin and Poroshenko agreed to work on extending a ceasefire between Kiev and pro-Kremlin militias.
The Russian and the Ukrainian leaders agreed to work on “the adoption of an agreement on a bilateral ceasefire between Ukrainian authorities and separatists,” the French presidency said in a statement.
The deadline for the current ceasefire in violence-hit eastern Ukraine runs out at 1900 GMT on Monday following two rounds of inconclusive talks, with no end to weeks of fighting in sight.
France and Germany have reiterated a warning from the European Union that it could slap more sanctions on Moscow if Putin does not explicitly pressure pro-Kremlin rebels to stop fighting.
In its statement, the French presidency said the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine would also talk on the phone later on Monday.
The latest round of phone diplomacy between Putin and the EU leaders came after a journalist with Russian state television was killed in eastern Ukraine.
Anatoly Klyan, a cameraman with state-controlled Channel One, became the third Russian media worker to have died in eastern Ukraine over the past two weeks.