Putin agrees to revise proposal for UN force in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signaled a readiness to revise his proposal of deploying UN peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine, during a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.
Merkel's spokesman said in a press release that the Chancellor has told Putin during the phone call that she welcomed his initiative "in principle", but also underlined that several changes to the proposal were needed.
"President Putin has responded positively and agreed to remove the previous limitation of planned UN mission only on the contact line," spokesman Steffen Seibert said, referring the separation between Ukrainian government forces and rebel-controlled areas.
The Ukrainian government was worried that deploying the UN peacekeeping force solely along a line dividing the warring parties would help cement the rebels' territorial claims.
Merkel's spokesman underlined that the planned UN peacekeeping force should work on a broader mandate and protect observers of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in areas they are operating under the Minsk agreement.
Ukraine has been wracked by conflict in its eastern regions since March 2014 after Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Conflict parties signed the Minsk cease-fire agreement in February 2015, with the mediation of France and Germany, but the fighting continued, claiming more than 10,000 lives, according to the UN.