Russian President Vladimir Putin says he hopes for Kiev and pro-Russian militias to reach a peace agreement on the spiraling crisis in east Ukraine on Friday.
Putin made the remark on Wednesday as he outlined a seven-point peace plan which calls for the end “of active offensive operations by the (Ukrainian) armed forces” and pro-Russian forces “in the southeast of Ukraine.”
“I believe that a final agreement between the authorities of Kiev and southeastern Ukraine can be reached and cemented during a meeting of the Contact Group on September 5,” said Putin.
He was referring to the European-mediated negotiations planned to be held in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Friday.
The blueprint calls for the Ukrainian forces to halt airstrikes on cities in the volatile east.
Putin also called for the deployment of international observers to monitor a ceasefire, the unconditional exchange of prisoners as well as the establishment of corridors for humanitarian aid supply to crisis-stricken cities in Donetsk and Lugansk.
The roadmap raises hopes of an end to months-long fighting which has left more than 2,600 people dead.
Earlier in the day, Kiev said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Putin were have agreed to a “permanent ceasefire” in the volatile eastern Ukraine. Russia, however, said the leaders agreed on steps towards peace in eastern Ukraine but not a truce as Moscow is not a party to the crisis.
Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Moscow forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations to silence the pro-Russians there in mid-April.
Violence intensified in May after the two flashpoint regions of Donetsk and Lugansk held local referendums, in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine.
Western powers and the Kiev government accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Russia denies the accusation.