The Russian and Ukrainian presidents have agreed in a phone conversation to work on extending a ceasefire between Kiev and pro-Kremlin militias, the French presidency has said.
In a four-way teleconference on Monday which also included the French and German leaders, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko agreed to work on “the adoption of an agreement on a bilateral ceasefire between Ukrainian authorities and separatists”, the presidency said.
“The leaders spoke out in favour of organising a third round of consultations between representatives of Kiev and southeastern regions,” Kremlin said in a statement.
In similar telephonic conversations on Sunday, EU leaders urged Ukraine to extend the ceasefire deadline.
Ukrain’s Poroshenko has already extended the ceasefire from seven days to 10 as part of a peace plan to end the conflict that has killed more than 400 people since April.
National security spokesman Andriy Lysenko said that the presidential decision would come before the ceasefire expires at 19 GMT.
However, sporadic fighting still flared on Monday despite the ceasefire. Shelling killed at least two people and ruined several apartments in the rebel-held city of Slovyansk in the eastern region of Donetsk.
European leaders have urged Russia to use its influence with the rebels to de-escalate the conflict. They have said they could impose another round of economic sanctions against Russia if the conditions for a continuing ceasefire are not met.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Putin suggested to Poroshenko that both Ukrainian monitors and observers from the Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe deploy to checkpoints on the Russian side of the border to ensure “they aren’t used for illegal means”.
“We expect that direct and detailed consultations between Russian and Ukrainian border guards will start shortly to agree on details of the monitors’ presence,” he said in remarks carried by Russian news wires.
A Kremlin statement said foreign ministers from the four countries would carry the four-way talks – a distinct cold shoulder to efforts from the United States or the full European Union to be further involved in Ukraine’s protracted crisis.