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Kremlin Puts Off Issue Of Peacekeepers In Ukraine

The Kremlin has refuted a Ukrainian claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed to deploy peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian soldiers are fighting pro-Russian separatists.

A Ukrainian presidential statement on April 30 said Putin had accepted the possibility of deploying a peacekeeping contingent to the Donbas region. The statement followed a phone conversation among Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow on May 1 it was "absolutely wrong" to raise the issue of peacekeepers until all provisions of a February cease-fire had been fulfilled. He said, though, that Russia had never disputed the notion of deploying peacekeepers.

The four leaders noted "certain progress" following their phone conversation. This included withdrawal of heavy weapons from the region as stipulated in the cease-fire agreement.

Based on reporting by AFP and Interfax