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Poroshenko: Peacekeepers Must Not Preserve 'Russia's Occupation'

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivers his annual address to lawmakers at the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv on September 7.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says that the purpose of a proposed UN-mandated peacekeeping mission in war-torn eastern Ukrainian must be to foster peace, not to cement what he called "Russia's occupation" of a chunk of his country.

Poroshenko spoke in an annual address to parliament on September 7, two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the deployment of lightly armed peacekeepers to protect OSCE observers monitoring the conflict.

READ MORE: Explainer: Does Putin's Peacekeeper Proposal For Ukraine Have Any Merit?

Russia has indicated that, under its plan, the peacekeepers would operate only along the front line separating Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists. Russia also says that the plan should be subject to approval by the separatists.

Poroshenko said the mission should patrol the whole conflict zone including the border between Russia and the separatist-held parts of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which Kyiv says is used to ship weapons and military personnel in from Russia.

"Its purpose should not be the preservation of Russia's occupation and the legalization of the Russian military presence, but a durable peace," Poroshenko said.

He called Putin's proposal "strange" but said that Ukraine is ready to discuss any proposal at the UN.

The conflict has killed more than 10,000 civilians and combatants in eastern Ukraine since it erupted in April 2014, after Russia seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and fomented separatism across large parts of the country.

The war has persisted despite a European-brokered agreement on a cease-fire and steps to peace that was signed by Ukraine, Russia, and the separatists in February 2015.

With reporting by AFP and Unian
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