Putin: Compromise needed in Ukraine


Associated Press

MOSCOW

Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly expressed support Sunday for Ukraine’s declaration of a cease-fire in its battle against pro-Russian separatists and called on both sides to negotiate a compromise.

Putin said such a compromise must guarantee the rights of the Russian-speaking residents of eastern Ukraine, who must feel like they are “an integral part” of their own country. Putin’s statement appeared to signal that he sees their future in Ukraine.

Separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions have declared independence and asked to join Russia.

Moscow has rebuffed their appeals, but is seen by Ukraine and the West as actively supporting the insurgency.

Putin’s conciliatory words came as Russia beganSFlblarge-scale military exercises and after NATO accused Russia of moving troops back toward the Ukrainian border.

Putin discussed the cease-fire Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, Merkel’s office and the Kremlin said.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden welcomed Ukraine’s unilateral cease-fire declaration in a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, but expressed concern that separatist leaders have refused to reciprocate, Biden’s office said.

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