Siversk: Ukraine`s new Western-backed leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin both called for dialogue today to end a pro-Moscow uprising that has threatened the ex-Soviet state`s survival and brought Europe to the edge of all-out war.
The twin calls from the central figures of the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War era both came with conditions and the ragtag militias in Ukraine`s eastern rustbelt showing no desire to end their independence drive.
"Both of my grandfathers were killed in World War II fighting the Nazis," said a rebel named Andriy as he prepared ammunition for a heavy machinegun in his battle against what many separatists refer to as the "fascist" in power in Kiev today.
"I will continue their fight," the 31-year-old said. Ukraine`s border guards reported three raids by the rebels in the eastern Lugansk region today that followed similar attacks the day before.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko -- who will crown his May 25 election promise by signing a historic EU trade pact in Brussels on Friday that pulls Kiev further out of the Kremlin`s reach -- called a peaceful settlement "our plan A".
"But those who are planning to use peaceful negotiations only to buy time and regroup their forces must know that we have a detailed plan B. I am not going to speak of it now because I believe that our peaceful plan will work out," he said in a 12-minute television address.
The 48-year-old confectionery tycoon added that he had no intention of negotiating with those implicated in "murder and torture".
Putin promised to stand behind Poroshenko`s peace efforts as long as they led to "substantial dialogue" and resulted in ethnic Russians winning broader language and other civil rights.
"Russia will certainly support these intentions. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is a political process," Putin told reporters.
"It is important for dialogue between all warring parties to originate on the basis of this peace plan," Putin said in his most overt endorsement of the blueprint to date.