Russian President Vladimir Putin has thrown his country’s weight behind a peace process to swiftly end the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine, vowing all-out efforts to achieve that goal.
“Russia, for its part, will do everything to support this peace process if it starts,” Putin told reporters on Wednesday after his two hours of one-on-one talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Belarusian capital, Minsk.
“We talked about the need to end bloodshed as soon as possible, about the need to shift towards political resolution of all issues,” he added.
The Russian president, however, said there was no discussion of a ceasefire because Moscow is not a party to the conflict in Ukraine.
He emphasized that it was up to Kiev to work out conditions for a ceasefire with pro-Russian militias.
The talks between Putin and Poroshenko were aimed at de-escalating the worsening crisis in eastern Ukraine that heightened tensions between Moscow and the West, and prompted the United States and EU to impose sanctions on Russia.
The meeting in Belarus came on the same day that Ukraine claimed it captured 10 Russian soldiers in its territory.
Putin did not directly address the allegation but said the soldiers, who have been patrolling the border, may have found themselves on the Ukrainian territory.
The Western powers accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis in eastern Ukraine, which erupted when Kiev launched military operations in April to silence pro-Russia protests, but the Kremlin denies the accusation.
The unrest in eastern Ukraine has so far claimed the lives of more than 2,200 people. Nearly 300,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes.