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MILAN - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko met an array of EU leaders on Friday, but there was little sign of progress in patching up a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and resolving a dispute over natural gas supplies. Putin held more than two and a half hours of talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel overnight. The Kremlin said afterwards the pair were still at odds over how to resolve the crisis.
The West has imposed sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea earlier this year and its support of pro-Russian separatists fighting in the east of Ukraine. European leaders in Milan for a EU-Asia summit urged Russia to do more to end constant, deadly violations of a ceasefire that was agreed by Putin and Poroshenko last month in Minsk."It is obviously above all Russia's task to make clear that the Minsk plan is adhered to," Merkel told reporters on Thursday. "Unfortunately, there are still a lot of shortcomings but it will be important to look for a dialogue here." Kiev and its Western backers accuse Moscow of aiding a pro-Russian separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine by providing troops and arms. Russia denies the charges but says it has a right to defend the interests of the region's Russian-speaking majority.
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