Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called on Russia Thursday to support his peace plan for eastern Ukraine with “actions, not words,” accusing Moscow of “aggression.”
Speaking before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, Poroshenko, who has put forward a plan to resolve the conflict between Kyiv and pro-Russian separatists, called on President Vladimir Putin, who has said he backs the plan, to support it with “actions, not words.”
President Poroshenko accused Russia of waging an “undeclared war” against Ukraine by backing and arming the separatists, calling it an “aggressor” which has destroyed regional stability.
He also said that unless Russia returns Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in March, normalization of bilateral relations is “impossible.”
Kerry calls on Russia
Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it is “critical” for Russia “in the next hours” to call on pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine to disarm.
He made the call Thursday in Paris, after meeting with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.
Kerry said he and the French foreign minister are in “full agreement” that Russian President Vladimir Putin must prove that Russia is working to persuade the separatists to disarm and become part of the peace process.
“We are in full agreement that it is critical for Russia to show in the next hours, literally, that they’re moving to help disarm the separatists, to encourage them to disarm, to call on them to lay down their weapons and to begin to become part of a legitimate process,” Kerry told reporters in Paris.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to Putin for the second time in two days on Thursday to discuss how to help resolve the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin said.
The call took place “at the initiative of the German side” and touched on questions of “monitoring observance of the ceasefire between the sides in conflict, the necessity of extending the truce, the establishment of regular work by the contact group and the freeing of people being forcibly detained,” the Kremlin said.
On Wednesday, the Obama administration said it was ready to impose fresh sanctions on Russia if Moscow fails to take action to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine.
The administration said it has delayed implementation as it presses for unified support from European and U.S. manufacturers for the measures.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday the new sanctions will target Russia’s banking, energy and defense sectors.
The threat of new sanctions comes as American business leaders campaign against unilateral penalties, claiming they will hurt U.S. interests and cost American jobs.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Washington-based National Association of Manufacturers plan to stress the perceived threat to U.S. interests with a newspaper advertising campaign.
European leaders also have voiced concern that new sanctions could otherwise hurt Europe’s expanding economic ties with Moscow. Still, they are expected to discuss possible new round at their summit in Belgium on Friday.
The European Union and the United States earlier imposed sanctions against specific Russian individuals and companies after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March.