Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Wednesday that an agreement "to end the bloodshed" in Ukraine could be reached as early as Friday, when talks are planned. But Ukraine's prime minister immediately hit back at the comments, saying that they were an attempt to avoid further sanctions and that the only way to end the conflict was for Moscow to stop its involvement in the country. Speaking in the Mongolia capital of Ulan Bator, Putin told reporters that his views and those of his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko were "very close" in terms of finding a political solution, Reuters reported. He outlined what he said was a seven-step plan – which was later published on the Kremlin website - including the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops.
He said pro-Russian rebels could reach an agreement with Kiev on Friday at the Ukraine international contact group, meeting in the Belarussian capital, Minsk. But Ukraine's PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk rubbished Putin’s comments, according to Reuters, saying Russia has ignored or broken all previous peace deals and adding that the only viable solution was for Moscow to pull out all its troops from Ukraine.
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- Alexander Smith
Reuters contributed to this report.