AM 720 KDWN
News, Traffic, Weather

Report: Putin canceling threat of force

KDWN

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin asked parliament Tuesday to cancel a resolution sanctioning the use of military force in Ukraine, his spokesman said.

The move comes as pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine announced that they would respect a cease-fire declared by the Ukrainian president last week, raising hopes for an end to months of fighting that have killed hundreds and driven thousands from their homes.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin wrote to the head of Russia’s upper house of parliament asking that his March 1 request for approval of the use of force be withdrawn.

Putin issued the request to parliament after Ukraine’s pro-Russian president was ousted in February following months of street protests. In March, Ukraine’s Black Sea region of Crimea was annexed by Russia after being seized by troops that Putin later admitted were Russian army forces.

Putin’s request marks another Kremlin effort to de-escalate the crisis ahead of a visit later Tuesday to Vienna, where he will meet with the Organization for Security and Co-operation officials who have helped broker peace talks between Kiev and Moscow.

Kiev and Western governments have frequently accused Russia of supporting the rebels and of amassing troops on the border with Ukraine in preparation for a possible invasion.

Russian markets, which have been rattled by the crisis in Ukraine and a host of sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union against Russian officials and businessmen, soared 1.6 percent Tuesday after Peskov’s announcement, reaching a four-month high.

The March resolution was passed unanimously by Russia’s appointed upper house of parliament. On Tuesday, parliament member Valery Shnyakin said the house would vote on Putin’s latest request on Wednesday, according to RIA Novosti.

The cease-fire in east Ukraine appeared to be largely holding Tuesday, as soldiers at a checkpoint in Dovhenke, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the rebel stronghold of Slovyansk, were seen relaxing near the barricades or engaging in shooting drills.

Vladislav Seleznev, the spokesman for Ukraine’s operation in the east, said rebel forces attacked a Ukrainian base north of Slovyansk late Monday but there had been no fighting overnight.

But at another government-controlled checkpoint just outside of Slovyansk, troops said they had come under sniper attack Tuesday morning and the roughly 15 soldiers manning the checkpoint appeared tense.

AP journalist Balint Szlanko contributed to this report from Dovhenke, Ukraine. Nataliya Vasliyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.