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Poroshenko, Tillerson Discuss UN Peacekeeping Plan

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (right) and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Kyiv on July 9

The Ukrainian presidential office says President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have discussed the possibility of sending UN peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine.

A November 4 statement said Poroshenko and Tillerson held a telephone conversation during which they “coordinated further steps for the deployment of an international UN mission” in the separatist-held parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, including the border between those areas and Russia, which Kyiv says is used to ship weapons and military personnel in from Russia.

Fighting between government forces and Russia-backed separatists has killed more than 10,000 people in Ukraine’s east since April 2014.

Several cease-fire deals announced as part of the Minsk accords, signed in September 2014 and February 2015 to put an end to the conflict, have failed to hold.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in September proposed deploying UN peacekeepers on the contact line separating the sides of the conflict. The plan swiftly drew criticism from both Kyiv and the West, in part because of concerns that deployment only along the front line would cement Russian control over separatist-held territory.

According to Poroshenko’s office, Tillerson told Poroshenko that Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell plans to visit Ukraine in November.

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