Pro-Russian separatist leaders voiced willingness to extend a shaky ceasefire in Ukraine`s Russian-speaking east on Friday, after releasing four out of eight international observers captured over a month ago, in an apparent goodwill gesture.
Russia would welcome a three-day extension of a ceasefire in east Ukraine but it must not simply delay an "ultimatum" for separatists to lay down their arms, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying on Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday a long-term ceasefire was needed in Ukraine to allow talks between the Kiev government and representatives of eastern regions where rebels are waging an armed insurgency.
A crunch round of telephone diplomacy between Ukraine`s new Western-backed leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin that included German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will continue Thursday, Kiev said.
French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday pressed for a mechanism to oversee the truce in Ukraine in a telephone conversation with the Russian and Ukrainian leaders that lasted more than an hour.
Despite ordering the revoking of a parliamentary resolution allowing Russian troops to enter Ukraine, Moscow will continue to protect ethnic Russians there if necessary, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.
President Vladimir Putin asked Russia`s upper house on Tuesday to revoke the right it had granted him to order a military intervention in Ukraine in defence of Russian-speakers there, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Angry with the West`s response over Ukraine and eager to diversify its options, Russia is moving rapidly to bolster ties with North Korea in a diplomatic nose-thumbing that could complicate the US-led effort to squeeze Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear weapons program.