Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Russia, Ukraine to discuss cease-fire

KIEV, Ukraine — Russia and Ukraine said Wednesday they are working on a deal to halt months of fighting in eastern Ukraine, an announcement that threatened to upstage a crucial NATO summit on the crisis that has chilled East-West relations.

Western leaders expressed some skepticism over the plan, noting that it isn't the first attempt to establish a truce and earlier efforts had failed.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's office said after a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the two leaders have agreed on steps for a cease-fire.

In a televised statement, Putin spelled out a seven-point plan for ending hostilities in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists scored significant gains last week against government forces after four months of fighting.

Putin, speaking on a visit to Mongolia, said the rebels should halt their offensive and the Ukrainian government forces should pull back to a distance that would make the use of artillery and rockets against residential areas impossible. He also urged international monitoring of a cease-fire, a prisoners exchange and the delivery of humanitarian aid to war-ravaged regions.

Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the rebels and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe could finalize the peace deal as early as Friday, Putin said.

Poroshenko also voiced hope that Friday's talks in Belarus' capital of Minsk would allow both sides to "take real steps to achieve peace."

He discussed the plan with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying it should include the OSCE monitoring of a cease-fire, the withdrawal of foreign troops, a buffer zone on the border and the release of all Ukrainian prisoners held in Russia, according to his office.

The Ukrainian leader met with Putin in Minsk last week, but they didn't announce any agreement after that session.

Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 87 soldiers had been retrieved from the area near Ilovaysk, the scene of a horrific government defeat over the weekend. Ukraine and the West said the rebel offensive was spearheaded by regular Russian army units — an allegation Moscow has rejected.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday dismissed the Kremlin denials, saying "Russian combat forces with Russian weapons in Russian tanks" were in eastern Ukraine.

On a trip to Estonia to reassure allies along Russia's border, Obama said it was too early to say if the announced truce could hold, noting that "we haven't seen a lot of follow-up on so-called announced cease-fires."

Obama left Estonia for Wales, where he and other Western leaders will attend a NATO summit that starts today. The alliance is expected to approve plans to station more troops and equipment in Eastern Europe, with the aim of building a rapid response force that could deploy within 48 hours.

Even if the cease-fire holds, negotiating a lasting peace in the east will be a daunting challenge in the conflict, which the U.N. estimates has killed nearly 2,600 people and forced more than 340,000 to flee their homes.

Rebels have dropped a demand for full independence, saying they are ready to discuss remaining part of Ukraine in exchange for broad autonomy in the mostly Russian-speaking regions in the east — a stance that reflects Putin's desire to maintain leverage over its neighbor and prevent it from ever joining NATO.

Russia, Ukraine to discuss cease-fire 09/03/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 3, 2014 10:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hudson man, 19, killed by hit-and-run driver while walking in street, FHP says

    Accidents

    A 19-year-old Hudson man walking in the street Friday night was struck and killed by a pickup truck that fled the scene, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  2. Road Ranger hurt after truck catches fire in crash at I-275, Busch

    Blogs

    TAMPA — A Road Ranger was seriously injured when a drunk driver ran into the back of his truck on Interstate 275 and both vehicles burst into flame, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

    Brian Nelson Barrett, 42, of Wimauma, was headed north on I-275 in his Road Ranger truck Saturday morning 10/21/17 when a car hit him from behind, causing both vehicles to erupt in flames.
  3. Nicked-up Lightning vs. Penguins tonight

    Blogs

     

  4. Trump to allow the release of JFK assassination records

    Politics

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he doesn't plan to block the scheduled release of thousands of never publicly seen government documents related to President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

    FILE - In this Nov. 22, 1963 file photo, President John F. Kennedy waves from his car in a motorcade in Dallas. Riding with Kennedy are First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, right, Nellie Connally, second from left, and her husband, Texas Gov. John Connally, far left.  President Donald Trump, on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017,  says he plans to release thousands of never-seen government documents related to President John F. Kennedy's assassination.  (AP Photo/Jim Altgens, File) NY107
  5. Romano: C'mon Rick Baker, tell us how you really feel about Trump

    Local Government

    A brief timeline of presidential politics in St. Petersburg:

    Rick Baker, center,  waves to drivers while holding a sign that reads "Thank You" along with his family and supporters.