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Ukraine president talks to Putin, Merkel, Hollande

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tried to keep his peace plan to settle the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on track in a four-way phone call Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany.

The two-hour conversation came ahead of a Monday deadline that European Union leaders set for Russia and the separatists to take steps to ease the violence, warning that otherwise they were ready “at any time” to impose further punitive measures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande encouraged the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to work on meeting the EU conditions, Hollande’s office said in a statement. The EU’s demands included the return of three border checkpoints to Ukrainian control, verification of the cease-fire by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and talks to put Poroshenko’s peace plan in place.

The call was the latest in a series of discussions the four leaders have held in recent weeks in an effort to stop the fighting that has killed more than 400 people since April. A cease-fire in place since June 20 has been shaky, with each side accusing the other of numerous violations.

A statement issued by Poroshenko’s office said he underlined Ukraine’s willingness to maintain the cease-fire at least until Monday evening, but expressed concern about the situation, noting what he said were multiple violations of the truce by separatist fighters. He called on Putin to strengthen border controls from the Russian side to stop what Ukraine says is the flow of weapons, fighters and mercenaries.

The sides agreed that more talks among representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the separatists would convene “very soon,” Poroshenko’s office said.

A Kremlin statement said the four leaders discussed having OSCE monitors stationed at the border crossing points. They also discussed issues resulting from Ukraine’s signing of a broad trade deal with the EU on Friday despite Russia’s objections. Russian officials have said Ukraine’s tariff-free trade arrangement with Russia may be withdrawn, but no trade sanctions have yet been announced.

In another indication that tensions remain high, several hundred Ukrainian soldiers and activists gathered outside the presidential administration in Kiev on Sunday to demand that Poroshenko lift the cease-fire and allow them to resume their fight.

A presidential administration official, Henadiy Zubko, promised to pass on their demands to the president, but told them that the cease-fire order would remain in effect until 10 p.m. Monday (1900GMT).

Soldiers also addressed several thousand people who turned out for the traditional Sunday rally on Independence Square in central Kiev.

Another EU condition was fulfilled late Saturday, when pro-Russia separatists released a second team of four OSCE observers who had been held captive in eastern Ukraine since the end of May. The first team of four was freed last week.

The free-trade pact that Ukraine signed with the EU was the very deal that the former Ukrainian president dumped under pressure from Moscow in November, fueling huge protests that eventually drove him from power. Moscow responded to those events by annexing the mainly Russian-speaking Crimean Peninsula in March, and the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine broke out a month later.

The United States and the EU have slapped travel bans and asset freezes on members of Putin’s inner circle, and threatened to impose more crippling sanctions against entire sectors of Russia’s economy if the Kremlin fails to de-escalate the crisis.

Ukraine president talks to Putin, Merkel, Hollande

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tried to keep his peace plan to settle the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on track in a four-way phone call Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany.

The two-hour conversation came ahead of a Monday deadline that European Union leaders set for Russia and the separatists to take steps to ease the violence, warning that otherwise they were ready “at any time” to impose further punitive measures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande encouraged the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to work on meeting the EU conditions, Hollande’s office said in a statement. The EU’s demands included the return of three border checkpoints to Ukrainian control, verification of the cease-fire by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and talks to put Poroshenko’s peace plan in place.

The call was the latest in a series of discussions the four leaders have held in recent weeks in an effort to stop the fighting that has killed more than 400 people since April. A cease-fire in place since June 20 has been shaky, with each side accusing the other of numerous violations.

A statement issued by Poroshenko’s office said he underlined Ukraine’s willingness to maintain the cease-fire at least until Monday evening, but expressed concern about the situation, noting what he said were multiple violations of the truce by separatist fighters. He called on Putin to strengthen border controls from the Russian side to stop what Ukraine says is the flow of weapons, fighters and mercenaries.

The sides agreed that more talks among representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the separatists would convene “very soon,” Poroshenko’s office said.

A Kremlin statement said the four leaders discussed having OSCE monitors stationed at the border crossing points. They also discussed issues resulting from Ukraine’s signing of a broad trade deal with the EU on Friday despite Russia’s objections. Russian officials have said Ukraine’s tariff-free trade arrangement with Russia may be withdrawn, but no trade sanctions have yet been announced.

In another indication that tensions remain high, several hundred Ukrainian soldiers and activists gathered outside the presidential administration in Kiev on Sunday to demand that Poroshenko lift the cease-fire and allow them to resume their fight.

A presidential administration official, Henadiy Zubko, promised to pass on their demands to the president, but told them that the cease-fire order would remain in effect until 10 p.m. Monday (1900GMT).

Soldiers also addressed several thousand people who turned out for the traditional Sunday rally on Independence Square in central Kiev.

Another EU condition was fulfilled late Saturday, when pro-Russia separatists released a second team of four OSCE observers who had been held captive in eastern Ukraine since the end of May. The first team of four was freed last week.

The free-trade pact that Ukraine signed with the EU was the very deal that the former Ukrainian president dumped under pressure from Moscow in November, fueling huge protests that eventually drove him from power. Moscow responded to those events by annexing the mainly Russian-speaking Crimean Peninsula in March, and the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine broke out a month later.

The United States and the EU have slapped travel bans and asset freezes on members of Putin’s inner circle, and threatened to impose more crippling sanctions against entire sectors of Russia’s economy if the Kremlin fails to de-escalate the crisis.

Ukraine president talks to Putin, Merkel, Hollande

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tried to keep his peace plan to settle the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on track in a four-way phone call Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany.

The two-hour conversation came ahead of a Monday deadline that European Union leaders set for Russia and the separatists to take steps to ease the violence, warning that otherwise they were ready “at any time” to impose further punitive measures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande encouraged the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to work on meeting the EU conditions, Hollande’s office said in a statement. The EU’s demands included the return of three border checkpoints to Ukrainian control, verification of the cease-fire by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and talks to put Poroshenko’s peace plan in place.

The call was the latest in a series of discussions the four leaders have held in recent weeks in an effort to stop the fighting that has killed more than 400 people since April. A cease-fire in place since June 20 has been shaky, with each side accusing the other of numerous violations.

A statement issued by Poroshenko’s office said he underlined Ukraine’s willingness to maintain the cease-fire at least until Monday evening, but expressed concern about the situation, noting what he said were multiple violations of the truce by separatist fighters. He called on Putin to strengthen border controls from the Russian side to stop what Ukraine says is the flow of weapons, fighters and mercenaries.

The sides agreed that more talks among representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the separatists would convene “very soon,” Poroshenko’s office said.

A Kremlin statement said the four leaders discussed having OSCE monitors stationed at the border crossing points. They also discussed issues resulting from Ukraine’s signing of a broad trade deal with the EU on Friday despite Russia’s objections. Russian officials have said Ukraine’s tariff-free trade arrangement with Russia may be withdrawn, but no trade sanctions have yet been announced.

In another indication that tensions remain high, several hundred Ukrainian soldiers and activists gathered outside the presidential administration in Kiev on Sunday to demand that Poroshenko lift the cease-fire and allow them to resume their fight.

A presidential administration official, Henadiy Zubko, promised to pass on their demands to the president, but told them that the cease-fire order would remain in effect until 10 p.m. Monday (1900GMT).

Soldiers also addressed several thousand people who turned out for the traditional Sunday rally on Independence Square in central Kiev.

Another EU condition was fulfilled late Saturday, when pro-Russia separatists released a second team of four OSCE observers who had been held captive in eastern Ukraine since the end of May. The first team of four was freed last week.

The free-trade pact that Ukraine signed with the EU was the very deal that the former Ukrainian president dumped under pressure from Moscow in November, fueling huge protests that eventually drove him from power. Moscow responded to those events by annexing the mainly Russian-speaking Crimean Peninsula in March, and the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine broke out a month later.

The United States and the EU have slapped travel bans and asset freezes on members of Putin’s inner circle, and threatened to impose more crippling sanctions against entire sectors of Russia’s economy if the Kremlin fails to de-escalate the crisis.

Ukraine president talks to Putin, Merkel, Hollande

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tried to keep his peace plan to settle the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on track in a four-way phone call Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany.

The two-hour conversation came ahead of a Monday deadline that European Union leaders set for Russia and the separatists to take steps to ease the violence, warning that otherwise they were ready “at any time” to impose further punitive measures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande encouraged the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to work on meeting the EU conditions, Hollande’s office said in a statement. The EU’s demands included the return of three border checkpoints to Ukrainian control, verification of the cease-fire by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and talks to put Poroshenko’s peace plan in place.

The call was the latest in a series of discussions the four leaders have held in recent weeks in an effort to stop the fighting that has killed more than 400 people since April. A cease-fire in place since June 20 has been shaky, with each side accusing the other of numerous violations.

A statement issued by Poroshenko’s office said he underlined Ukraine’s willingness to maintain the cease-fire at least until Monday evening, but expressed concern about the situation, noting what he said were multiple violations of the truce by separatist fighters. He called on Putin to strengthen border controls from the Russian side to stop what Ukraine says is the flow of weapons, fighters and mercenaries.

The sides agreed that more talks among representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the separatists would convene “very soon,” Poroshenko’s office said.

A Kremlin statement said the four leaders discussed having OSCE monitors stationed at the border crossing points. They also discussed issues resulting from Ukraine’s signing of a broad trade deal with the EU on Friday despite Russia’s objections. Russian officials have said Ukraine’s tariff-free trade arrangement with Russia may be withdrawn, but no trade sanctions have yet been announced.

In another indication that tensions remain high, several hundred Ukrainian soldiers and activists gathered outside the presidential administration in Kiev on Sunday to demand that Poroshenko lift the cease-fire and allow them to resume their fight.

A presidential administration official, Henadiy Zubko, promised to pass on their demands to the president, but told them that the cease-fire order would remain in effect until 10 p.m. Monday (1900GMT).

Soldiers also addressed several thousand people who turned out for the traditional Sunday rally on Independence Square in central Kiev.

Another EU condition was fulfilled late Saturday, when pro-Russia separatists released a second team of four OSCE observers who had been held captive in eastern Ukraine since the end of May. The first team of four was freed last week.

The free-trade pact that Ukraine signed with the EU was the very deal that the former Ukrainian president dumped under pressure from Moscow in November, fueling huge protests that eventually drove him from power. Moscow responded to those events by annexing the mainly Russian-speaking Crimean Peninsula in March, and the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine broke out a month later.

The United States and the EU have slapped travel bans and asset freezes on members of Putin’s inner circle, and threatened to impose more crippling sanctions against entire sectors of Russia’s economy if the Kremlin fails to de-escalate the crisis.

Ukraine president talks to Putin, Merkel, Hollande

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tried to keep his peace plan to settle the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on track in a four-way phone call Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany.

The two-hour conversation came ahead of a Monday deadline that European Union leaders set for Russia and the separatists to take steps to ease the violence, warning that otherwise they were ready “at any time” to impose further punitive measures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande encouraged the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to work on meeting the EU conditions, Hollande’s office said in a statement. The EU’s demands included the return of three border checkpoints to Ukrainian control, verification of the cease-fire by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and talks to put Poroshenko’s peace plan in place.

The call was the latest in a series of discussions the four leaders have held in recent weeks in an effort to stop the fighting that has killed more than 400 people since April. A cease-fire in place since June 20 has been shaky, with each side accusing the other of numerous violations.

A statement issued by Poroshenko’s office said he underlined Ukraine’s willingness to maintain the cease-fire at least until Monday evening, but expressed concern about the situation, noting what he said were multiple violations of the truce by separatist fighters. He called on Putin to strengthen border controls from the Russian side to stop what Ukraine says is the flow of weapons, fighters and mercenaries.

The sides agreed that more talks among representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the separatists would convene “very soon,” Poroshenko’s office said.

A Kremlin statement said the four leaders discussed having OSCE monitors stationed at the border crossing points. They also discussed issues resulting from Ukraine’s signing of a broad trade deal with the EU on Friday despite Russia’s objections. Russian officials have said Ukraine’s tariff-free trade arrangement with Russia may be withdrawn, but no trade sanctions have yet been announced.

In another indication that tensions remain high, several hundred Ukrainian soldiers and activists gathered outside the presidential administration in Kiev on Sunday to demand that Poroshenko lift the cease-fire and allow them to resume their fight.

A presidential administration official, Henadiy Zubko, promised to pass on their demands to the president, but told them that the cease-fire order would remain in effect until 10 p.m. Monday (1900GMT).

Soldiers also addressed several thousand people who turned out for the traditional Sunday rally on Independence Square in central Kiev.

Another EU condition was fulfilled late Saturday, when pro-Russia separatists released a second team of four OSCE observers who had been held captive in eastern Ukraine since the end of May. The first team of four was freed last week.

The free-trade pact that Ukraine signed with the EU was the very deal that the former Ukrainian president dumped under pressure from Moscow in November, fueling huge protests that eventually drove him from power. Moscow responded to those events by annexing the mainly Russian-speaking Crimean Peninsula in March, and the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine broke out a month later.

The United States and the EU have slapped travel bans and asset freezes on members of Putin’s inner circle, and threatened to impose more crippling sanctions against entire sectors of Russia’s economy if the Kremlin fails to de-escalate the crisis.

Ukraine president talks to Putin, Merkel, Hollande

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tried to keep his peace plan to settle the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on track in a four-way phone call Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany.

The two-hour conversation came ahead of a Monday deadline that European Union leaders set for Russia and the separatists to take steps to ease the violence, warning that otherwise they were ready “at any time” to impose further punitive measures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande encouraged the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to work on meeting the EU conditions, Hollande’s office said in a statement. The EU’s demands included the return of three border checkpoints to Ukrainian control, verification of the cease-fire by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and talks to put Poroshenko’s peace plan in place.

The call was the latest in a series of discussions the four leaders have held in recent weeks in an effort to stop the fighting that has killed more than 400 people since April. A cease-fire in place since June 20 has been shaky, with each side accusing the other of numerous violations.

A statement issued by Poroshenko’s office said he underlined Ukraine’s willingness to maintain the cease-fire at least until Monday evening, but expressed concern about the situation, noting what he said were multiple violations of the truce by separatist fighters. He called on Putin to strengthen border controls from the Russian side to stop what Ukraine says is the flow of weapons, fighters and mercenaries.

The sides agreed that more talks among representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the separatists would convene “very soon,” Poroshenko’s office said.

A Kremlin statement said the four leaders discussed having OSCE monitors stationed at the border crossing points. They also discussed issues resulting from Ukraine’s signing of a broad trade deal with the EU on Friday despite Russia’s objections. Russian officials have said Ukraine’s tariff-free trade arrangement with Russia may be withdrawn, but no trade sanctions have yet been announced.

In another indication that tensions remain high, several hundred Ukrainian soldiers and activists gathered outside the presidential administration in Kiev on Sunday to demand that Poroshenko lift the cease-fire and allow them to resume their fight.

A presidential administration official, Henadiy Zubko, promised to pass on their demands to the president, but told them that the cease-fire order would remain in effect until 10 p.m. Monday (1900GMT).

Soldiers also addressed several thousand people who turned out for the traditional Sunday rally on Independence Square in central Kiev.

Another EU condition was fulfilled late Saturday, when pro-Russia separatists released a second team of four OSCE observers who had been held captive in eastern Ukraine since the end of May. The first team of four was freed last week.

The free-trade pact that Ukraine signed with the EU was the very deal that the former Ukrainian president dumped under pressure from Moscow in November, fueling huge protests that eventually drove him from power. Moscow responded to those events by annexing the mainly Russian-speaking Crimean Peninsula in March, and the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine broke out a month later.

The United States and the EU have slapped travel bans and asset freezes on members of Putin’s inner circle, and threatened to impose more crippling sanctions against entire sectors of Russia’s economy if the Kremlin fails to de-escalate the crisis.

Ukraine president talks to Putin, Merkel, Hollande

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tried to keep his peace plan to settle the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on track in a four-way phone call Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany.

The two-hour conversation came ahead of a Monday deadline that European Union leaders set for Russia and the separatists to take steps to ease the violence, warning that otherwise they were ready “at any time” to impose further punitive measures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande encouraged the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to work on meeting the EU conditions, Hollande’s office said in a statement. The EU’s demands included the return of three border checkpoints to Ukrainian control, verification of the cease-fire by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and talks to put Poroshenko’s peace plan in place.

The call was the latest in a series of discussions the four leaders have held in recent weeks in an effort to stop the fighting that has killed more than 400 people since April. A cease-fire in place since June 20 has been shaky, with each side accusing the other of numerous violations.

A statement issued by Poroshenko’s office said he underlined Ukraine’s willingness to maintain the cease-fire at least until Monday evening, but expressed concern about the situation, noting what he said were multiple violations of the truce by separatist fighters. He called on Putin to strengthen border controls from the Russian side to stop what Ukraine says is the flow of weapons, fighters and mercenaries.

The sides agreed that more talks among representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the separatists would convene “very soon,” Poroshenko’s office said.

A Kremlin statement said the four leaders discussed having OSCE monitors stationed at the border crossing points. They also discussed issues resulting from Ukraine’s signing of a broad trade deal with the EU on Friday despite Russia’s objections. Russian officials have said Ukraine’s tariff-free trade arrangement with Russia may be withdrawn, but no trade sanctions have yet been announced.

In another indication that tensions remain high, several hundred Ukrainian soldiers and activists gathered outside the presidential administration in Kiev on Sunday to demand that Poroshenko lift the cease-fire and allow them to resume their fight.

A presidential administration official, Henadiy Zubko, promised to pass on their demands to the president, but told them that the cease-fire order would remain in effect until 10 p.m. Monday (1900GMT).

Soldiers also addressed several thousand people who turned out for the traditional Sunday rally on Independence Square in central Kiev.

Another EU condition was fulfilled late Saturday, when pro-Russia separatists released a second team of four OSCE observers who had been held captive in eastern Ukraine since the end of May. The first team of four was freed last week.

The free-trade pact that Ukraine signed with the EU was the very deal that the former Ukrainian president dumped under pressure from Moscow in November, fueling huge protests that eventually drove him from power. Moscow responded to those events by annexing the mainly Russian-speaking Crimean Peninsula in March, and the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine broke out a month later.

The United States and the EU have slapped travel bans and asset freezes on members of Putin’s inner circle, and threatened to impose more crippling sanctions against entire sectors of Russia’s economy if the Kremlin fails to de-escalate the crisis.

Ukraine president talks to Putin, Merkel, Hollande

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tried to keep his peace plan to settle the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on track in a four-way phone call Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany.

The two-hour conversation came ahead of a Monday deadline that European Union leaders set for Russia and the separatists to take steps to ease the violence, warning that otherwise they were ready “at any time” to impose further punitive measures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande encouraged the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to work on meeting the EU conditions, Hollande’s office said in a statement. The EU’s demands included the return of three border checkpoints to Ukrainian control, verification of the cease-fire by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and talks to put Poroshenko’s peace plan in place.

The call was the latest in a series of discussions the four leaders have held in recent weeks in an effort to stop the fighting that has killed more than 400 people since April. A cease-fire in place since June 20 has been shaky, with each side accusing the other of numerous violations.

A statement issued by Poroshenko’s office said he underlined Ukraine’s willingness to maintain the cease-fire at least until Monday evening, but expressed concern about the situation, noting what he said were multiple violations of the truce by separatist fighters. He called on Putin to strengthen border controls from the Russian side to stop what Ukraine says is the flow of weapons, fighters and mercenaries.

The sides agreed that more talks among representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the separatists would convene “very soon,” Poroshenko’s office said.

A Kremlin statement said the four leaders discussed having OSCE monitors stationed at the border crossing points. They also discussed issues resulting from Ukraine’s signing of a broad trade deal with the EU on Friday despite Russia’s objections. Russian officials have said Ukraine’s tariff-free trade arrangement with Russia may be withdrawn, but no trade sanctions have yet been announced.

In another indication that tensions remain high, several hundred Ukrainian soldiers and activists gathered outside the presidential administration in Kiev on Sunday to demand that Poroshenko lift the cease-fire and allow them to resume their fight.

A presidential administration official, Henadiy Zubko, promised to pass on their demands to the president, but told them that the cease-fire order would remain in effect until 10 p.m. Monday (1900GMT).

Soldiers also addressed several thousand people who turned out for the traditional Sunday rally on Independence Square in central Kiev.

Another EU condition was fulfilled late Saturday, when pro-Russia separatists released a second team of four OSCE observers who had been held captive in eastern Ukraine since the end of May. The first team of four was freed last week.

The free-trade pact that Ukraine signed with the EU was the very deal that the former Ukrainian president dumped under pressure from Moscow in November, fueling huge protests that eventually drove him from power. Moscow responded to those events by annexing the mainly Russian-speaking Crimean Peninsula in March, and the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine broke out a month later.

The United States and the EU have slapped travel bans and asset freezes on members of Putin’s inner circle, and threatened to impose more crippling sanctions against entire sectors of Russia’s economy if the Kremlin fails to de-escalate the crisis.

Ukraine president talks to Putin, Merkel, Hollande

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tried to keep his peace plan to settle the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on track in a four-way phone call Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany.

The two-hour conversation came ahead of a Monday deadline that European Union leaders set for Russia and the separatists to take steps to ease the violence, warning that otherwise they were ready “at any time” to impose further punitive measures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande encouraged the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to work on meeting the EU conditions, Hollande’s office said in a statement. The EU’s demands included the return of three border checkpoints to Ukrainian control, verification of the cease-fire by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and talks to put Poroshenko’s peace plan in place.

The call was the latest in a series of discussions the four leaders have held in recent weeks in an effort to stop the fighting that has killed more than 400 people since April. A cease-fire in place since June 20 has been shaky, with each side accusing the other of numerous violations.

A statement issued by Poroshenko’s office said he underlined Ukraine’s willingness to maintain the cease-fire at least until Monday evening, but expressed concern about the situation, noting what he said were multiple violations of the truce by separatist fighters. He called on Putin to strengthen border controls from the Russian side to stop what Ukraine says is the flow of weapons, fighters and mercenaries.

The sides agreed that more talks among representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the separatists would convene “very soon,” Poroshenko’s office said.

A Kremlin statement said the four leaders discussed having OSCE monitors stationed at the border crossing points. They also discussed issues resulting from Ukraine’s signing of a broad trade deal with the EU on Friday despite Russia’s objections. Russian officials have said Ukraine’s tariff-free trade arrangement with Russia may be withdrawn, but no trade sanctions have yet been announced.

In another indication that tensions remain high, several hundred Ukrainian soldiers and activists gathered outside the presidential administration in Kiev on Sunday to demand that Poroshenko lift the cease-fire and allow them to resume their fight.

A presidential administration official, Henadiy Zubko, promised to pass on their demands to the president, but told them that the cease-fire order would remain in effect until 10 p.m. Monday (1900GMT).

Soldiers also addressed several thousand people who turned out for the traditional Sunday rally on Independence Square in central Kiev.

Another EU condition was fulfilled late Saturday, when pro-Russia separatists released a second team of four OSCE observers who had been held captive in eastern Ukraine since the end of May. The first team of four was freed last week.

The free-trade pact that Ukraine signed with the EU was the very deal that the former Ukrainian president dumped under pressure from Moscow in November, fueling huge protests that eventually drove him from power. Moscow responded to those events by annexing the mainly Russian-speaking Crimean Peninsula in March, and the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine broke out a month later.

The United States and the EU have slapped travel bans and asset freezes on members of Putin’s inner circle, and threatened to impose more crippling sanctions against entire sectors of Russia’s economy if the Kremlin fails to de-escalate the crisis.

Ukraine president talks to Putin, Merkel, Hollande

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has tried to keep his peace plan to settle the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on track in a four-way phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany.

The European Union set a Monday deadline for Russia and the separatists to take a series of steps. If this was not done, the EU warned that it was ready to impose new punitive measures on Russia.

A statement released by Poroshenko’s office said he underlined Ukraine’s willingness to maintain a cease-fire at least until Monday evening, but expressed concern about the situation, noting what he said were multiple violations of the cease-fire by separatist fighters.

Poroshenko’s discussion Sunday with Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande was the latest in a series they have held in recent weeks in an effort to stop the fighting that has killed more than 400 people since April.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Several hundred Ukrainian soldiers and activists gathered outside the presidential administration in Kiev on Sunday to call for an end to the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, an indication that tensions remain high a day ahead of a deadline for steps toward easing the violence.

After the weeklong cease-fire expired Friday, President Petro Poroshenko agreed to extend it through Monday in an effort to stop the fighting between government troops and Moscow-backed separatists that has left hundreds dead.

The European Union also set a Monday deadline for Russia and the separatists to take a series of steps, including releasing all captives, retreating from border checkpoints, agreeing on a way to verify the cease-fire and beginning “substantial negotiations” on Poroshenko’s peace plan. If this was not done, the EU warned that it was ready to impose new punitive measures on Russia.

Soldiers from the Donbass battalion, a militia formed by volunteers, appealed to Poroshenko on Sunday to allow them to resume the fight.

A presidential administration official, Henadiy Zubko, promised to pass on their demands to the president, but told them that the cease-fire order would remain in effect until 10 p.m. Monday (1900GMT).

Both sides have been accused of violating the cease-fire.

Late Saturday, pro-Russia separatists released a second team of four observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who had been held captive in eastern Ukraine since the end of May. The first team of four was freed last week.

Ukraine on Friday signed a free-trade pact with the EU, the very deal that the former Ukrainian president dumped under pressure from Moscow in November, fueling huge protests that eventually drove him from power. Moscow responded to those events by annexing the mainly Russian-speaking Crimean Peninsula in March, and the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine broke out a month later.

The United States and the EU have slapped travel bans and asset freezes on members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and threatened to impose more crippling sanctions against entire sectors of Russia’s economy if the Kremlin fails to de-escalate the crisis.