Ukraine urges Merkel, EU help end pro-Russian revolt
President Petro Poroshenko conducted another furious round of telephone diplomacy as his foreign minister prepared to outline the details of Kiev’s new peace plan to EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
Poroshenko was due to sign an historic EU trade agreement in Brussels on Friday, crowning his 25 May election promise to make the decisive move closer to Europe that the regime toppled by protests in February resisted. The new president’s high-stakes peace push envisions talks with eastern representatives but not rebel leaders -- a condition that Russian President Vladimir Putin says will not help end the 11-week revolt.
Putin threw his weight behind Poroshenko’s plan over the weekend under the condition that it also leads to constitutional changes that grant broader rights to ethnic Russians who view the more nationalist leaders now in power in Kiev with mistrust.
Russia on Monday also insisted that the week-long unilateral ceasefire that Poroshenko ordered on Friday evening be extended over the long term. ‘At the moment, a durable ceasefire is needed as an irreversible condition for starting practical steps towards a binding dialogue,’ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s office said after his talks with German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Insurgency commanders have rejected Poroshenko’s overtures and continued attacking government forces.