Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Saturday voiced limited support for Ukraine’s unilateral ceasefire in its conflict with pro-Russian separatists, but told President Petro Poroshenko there had to be talks with the rebels to prevent the truce collapsing.
The Kremlin set out Putin’s view after overnight fighting in Ukraine’s east in which pro-Russian separatists, according to Ukrainian government forces, attacked military bases and customs posts within hours of the ceasefire coming into force on Friday night.
While welcoming Poroshenko’s truce, the Kremlin said Putin believed his peace plan should not be an “ultimatum” to the rebels and warned the ceasefire would not be “viable and realistic” unless there were practical moves to start talks between the opposing sides.
Poroshenko, who has unveiled a 15-point peace plan to end the insurgency in the east, has met regional leaders and offered to respect the use of the Russian language in the east but has refused to enter into direct dialogue with separatist leaders.
“The opportunity which the ceasefire opens up should be used to start meaningful negotiations and political compromise between the opposing sides in eastern Ukraine,” the Kremlin quoted Putin as saying.