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Ukraine Backs More Sanctions Against Russia In Passport Spat

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has denounced Moscow's recognition of travel documents issued by separatists in Ukraine. (file photo)

Ukraine's president has called for new sanctions against Russia over its decision to recognize passports issued by separatist authorities in eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin said its decision is a "humanitarian" move to help residents of separatist-held areas in eastern Ukraine who are suffering from a blockade by Ukrainian nationalists, and says that doesn't amount to recognizing the breakaway regions.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on February 21 denounced Moscow's recognition of the documents, which he says contradicts the 2015 Minsk peace deal. Speaking at a meeting with an EU aid commissioner, Poroshenko called for "resolute action" that could include "strengthening sanctions."

The United States and the European Union have both placed sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and its support for pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since April 2014, a conflict that has killed more than 9,750 people.

The 2015 Minsk agreement on resolving the conflict has been widely disregarded by both sides.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov argued February 21 that the decision to recognize passports and other documents issued by separatist authorities in the east was aimed to protect the rights of residents.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax