Putin in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. (AFP)
Kiev, Sept. 3: President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia listed seven steps today that he said were necessary for a ceasefire in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Putin said he and the President of Ukraine, Petro O. Poroshenko, had a similar understanding about what was needed, and he urged Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists in the east to reach a settlement at talks scheduled for Friday in Belarus.
The primary conditions on Putin’s list are that the separatists halt all offensive operations and that Ukrainian troops move their artillery back out of range of cities and large towns in the rebel-held area.
Putin also called for Ukraine to cease airstrikes; the establishment of an international monitoring mission and humanitarian aid corridors; an “all for all” prisoner exchange; and “rebuilding brigades” to repair damaged roads, bridges, power lines and other infrastructure.
His remarks came at a news conference during a state visit to Mongolia. After confirming that he had spoken with Poroshenko, Putin offhandedly mentioned that he had “sketched out” a peace plan during his flight from Moscow. An aide then handed Putin a notebook, from which he read the plan.
Putin offered his 7-point plan a day before the leaders of the Nato alliance, including President Obama, are scheduled to meet in Newport, Wales, with the Ukraine crisis at the top of the agenda.
The alliance is expected to announce that it will create a new rapid-reaction force for defending its members in Eastern Europe, along with other measures. Putin said he expected Ukraine and the separatists to announce an agreement by Friday.
The two-day Nato summit is scheduled to conclude that day.
Though Putin said that he and Poroshenko had similar views on achieving a cease-fire, the Ukrainian Prime minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, issued a fierce statement today rejecting his plan.
“Putin’s real plan is the destruction of Ukraine and the resumption of the USSR,” Yatsenyuk was quoted as saying. He said “the best plan to stop Russia’s war against Ukraine” would be if “Russia withdraws their regular troops, mercenaries and terrorists from Ukrainian territory.”