Europe warns Putin as Kiev truce deadline looms

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KIEV: With Ukraine’s shaky truce set to expire on Monday, the leaders of Germany and France have warned Vladimir Putin that Russia could face punishing sanctions unless he forces the pro-Russian rebels Moscow is accused of backing to suspend their deadly uprising.

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The French presidency said Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made their case to the Russian strongman in a call on Sunday that stretched for more than two hours, and included Ukraine’s embattled pro-Western leader Petro Poroshenko.

The new Ukrainian president’s office said the four agreed to speak again on Monday with the ceasefire expiring at 7 p.m. Manila time and no end to 13 weeks of fighting in sight.

The Ukrainian military reported losing five more soldiers over the weekend.

Sunday’s teleconference—the second in four days—had been arranged in Brussels on Friday when Poroshenko put his name to a historic trade deal with Europe that broke Kiev’s extended bonds with Moscow.

The European Union (EU) also used the occasion to issue an unusually firm statement telling Putin that he had until Monday to put explicit pressure on the separatist gunmen in restive east Ukraine, or face the possibility of entire sectors of Russia’s economy being cut off from the 28-nation bloc’s 500 million consumers.

The United States has promised to move in lockstep with Europe on Russian sanctions in the Cold War-style confrontation over the future of the strategic ex-Soviet state.

AFP

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