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Ukraine sees ‘understanding’ with Russia on peace moves

Reuters

June 9, 2014 | 12:00 pm

<em>Ukraine's new president Petro Poroshenko in Kiev on June 7. Photo by Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters</em>

Ukraine's new president Petro Poroshenko in Kiev on June 7. Photo by Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

Ukraine said on Monday it had reached a "mutual understanding" with Moscow on parts of a plan proposed by President Petro Poroshenko for ending violence in the east of the country.

It gave no other details after a second day of talks on Poroshenko's proposals for ending conflict in which scores of people, including pro-Russian separatist fighters and government forces, have been killed in east Ukraine since April.

"As a result of the work, the sides reached a mutual understanding on key stages of the implementation of the plan and on a list of priorities which will contribute to a de-escalation of the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

Moscow did not immediately comment.

The talks are being mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a security and human rights watchdog. At the first talks on Sunday, with Russian envoy Mikhail Zurabov, Poroshenko said violence must end this week.

The Foreign Ministry did not say who had attended Tuesday's talks, but said the "contact group" would hold further meetings on the crisis, which has caused the worst standoff between Russia and the West since the Cold War ended.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Finland on Monday the new government in Ukraine and the European Union had to work more constructively to end the crisis.

"We don't even know what is wanted from us. We are doing everything to resolve the Ukraine situation," he said at a news conference with Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja after talks.

"I believe that the newly chosen Ukrainian President Poroshenko's contacts (with western leaders) can lead to violence being stopped and internal dialogue beginning."

Lavrov said the EU's stance was not based on the best interests of its member states.

"It is not surprising that people call the EU stance unconstructive," he said. "It seeks revenge."

Since Poroshenko was elected president on May 25, the Ukrainian army has stepped up military operations to take back buildings seized by pro-Russian separatists in several towns and cities in mainly Russian-speaking east Ukraine.

Writing by Timothy Heritage; additional reporting by; Sakari Suoninen; editing by Andrew Roche

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