Europe warns Putin on eve of Ukraine truce deadline
Kiev: The leaders of Germany and France warned Vladimir Putin Sunday that Russia could be hit with punishing sanctions within days unless he forced Ukrainian rebels Moscow is accused of backing to suspend their deadly uprising.
The French presidency said Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made their case to the Russian strongman in a call that stretched for more than two hours and included Ukraine`s embattled pro-Western leader Petro Poroshenko.
The new Ukrainian president`s office said the four agreed to speak again tomorrow when a truce is set to expire at 1900 GMT with no end to 13 weeks of fighting in sight.
The Ukrainian military reported losing five more soldiers over the weekend.
The second such teleconference in four days was arranged in Brussels on Friday when Poroshenko put his name to a historic trade deal with Europe that broke Kiev`s extended bonds with Moscow.
The European Union also used the occasion to issue an unusually firm statement telling Putin that he had until tomorrow to put explicit pressure on the separatist gunmen or face the possibility of entire sectors of Russia`s economy being cut off from the 28-nation bloc`s 500 million consumers.
The United States has promised to move in lockstep with Europe on Russian sanctions in the Cold War-style confrontation over the future of the strategic ex-Soviet state.
The French statement said today`s call stressed "the importance of new concrete steps to stabilise the security situation on the ground, the extension of the ceasefire and the implementation of the peace plan presented by the Ukrainian authorities."
It also cited Friday`s EU punitive measures threat and said the three leaders told Putin they "hoped that results are achieved by Monday."
The Kremlin`s account of the conversation made no mention of the European conditions and stressed the joint call on Poroshenko not to resume his eastern campaign.
It also once again urged Ukraine to accept "immediate" Russian humanitarian aid in the conflict zone. Kiev suspects Moscow of planning to use such deliveries to smuggle arms to the rebel fighters.
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