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Ukraine: Summit Participants, Russia Support Peace Plan

  • VOA News

From left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stand before posing for a photo prior to talks in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.

From left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stand before posing for a photo prior to talks in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed on the principles of a peace plan to end fighting in eastern Ukraine.

President Poroshenko spoke early Wednesday following two hours of face-to-face talks with Putin at a summit in Belarus that was also attended by regional leaders.

"I can say that the logic of this peace plan was finally supported by all of the heads of state, without exclusion. We insisted that, first of all, it is necessary to reach an agreement to ensure the freedom of Ukrainian citizens illegally detained by armed groups. We achieved an agreement to organize a tripartite contact group immediately and the process of the release of captured hostages will be demonstrated very soon," said Poroshenko.

But it remains unclear what immediate impact the peace plan would have on ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces.

Following the talks, President Putin said Moscow will "do everything" to support the plan. But he also said it would be up to the Kyiv government to negotiate cease-fire terms with rebels.

"We in Russia cannot talk about any conditions for the cease-fire, about any agreements between Kyiv, Donetsk, Luhansk - this is not our business. This is Ukraine's business. We can only help to create an atmosphere of trust for this important and necessary process," said Putin.

Separately, Poroshenko said a roadmap for cease-fire talks will be prepared as soon as possible.

The multi-party talks in Minsk included European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the leaders of Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Pro-Russian separatists seeking autonomy in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east launched a rebellion against Kyiv's rule in April. Authorities say more than 2,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

The summit came on the same day Ukraine said it captured 10 Russian soldiers who had crossed into Ukrainian territory.

In his comments to reporters, Putin acknowledged that such a crossing may have occurred, but said his initial information showed the troops were patrolling the border and may have crossed over after getting lost.

Kyiv and a host of Western governments have repeatedly accused Moscow of arming and otherwise supporting the rebellion in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east.

Moscow continues to deny involvement, including accusations from Washington that Russia supplied the missile battery that downed a Malaysian airliner in July, killing all 298 people on board.

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