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Friday, Jun 20, 2014

World

Ukraine president releases 14-point peace plan to curb insurgency: Report

AFP | Friday, Jun 20, 2014

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, on June 20, 2014.

KIEV - Ukraine's new Western-backed president on Friday released a sweeping peace plan for curbing a pro-Russian uprising in the separatist east that is threatening the ex-Soviet country's survival.

The publication of the 14-point initiative followed two phone conversations in 72 hours between President Petro Poroshenko and Russia's Vladimir Putin, which highlighted the Kremlin's lingering influence over its smaller western neighbour.

Mr Poroshenko on Thursday also hosted in Kiev local leaders and tycoons from the eastern rustbelt to help win their agreement for his ideas of how to end the fighting that has killed at least 365 civilians and fighters on both sides.

A Ukranian military spokesman said on Friday the latest eastern clashes claimed the lives of seven soldiers and left 30 wounded.

Kiev media published copies of the document Mr Poroshenko was due to formally unveil later in the day that demands the rebels' immediate disarmament and promises to decentralise power through constitutional reform.

The plan also drops criminal charges against separatist fighters who committed no "serious crimes" and provides "a guaranteed corridor for Russian and Ukrainian mercenaries to leave" the conflict zone.

But it also calls on "local government bodies to resume their operations" - a demand rejected by separatist leaders who have proclaimed their independence from Kiev and occupied administration buildings in about a dozen eastern cities and towns.

One rebel commander this week dismissed news that Mr Poroshenko was about to propose a strategy for ending the country's worst crisis in its post-Soviet history as "meaningless".

The plan is officially called "Steps toward a peaceful settlement of the situation in eastern Ukrainian regions" and is intended to stay in force for 10 days after its publication.

But it makes no mention of an immediate but temporary unilateral ceasefire that Mr Poroshenko promised on Wednesday to declare within a matter of days.

Mr Poroshenko has previously suggested that his call for Ukranian forces to halt their offensive would go into effect with the plans' publication.

Mr Putin had earlier bowed to Western pressure and refused to recognise the independence proclaimed by the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions in the wake of disputed May 11 sovereignty referendums.

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