Leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France, Germany to talk Monday

AFP , Friday 21 Jul 2017

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko (Photo: Reuters)

The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France will hold their latest round of telephone talks on Monday to discuss the crisis in Ukraine, Kiev and Moscow said.

The talks -- the first since Emmanuel Macron took office in France -- come after the latest uptick in violence in the east of Ukraine.

"I will demand the immediate and genuine provision of a ceasefire along the entire frontline," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Friday.

The Kremlin also confirmed the talks were scheduled.

Fighting between Russian-backed separatists and government troops has claimed the lives of eight Ukrainian troops over the past few days, the most serious surge in bloodshed in recent months.

The violence flared several days after a top rebel leader announced a plan to form a new "state" that Kiev warned could put a long-stalled peace plan further in jeopardy.

Donetsk rebel chief Alexander Zakharchenko on Tuesday announced plans to create a new "state" to replace Ukraine.

The proposed country was to be called Malorossiya (Little Russia) -- a tsarist-era term for an area covering much of modern day Ukraine -- and have its capital in Donetsk.

The plan appears to be dead in the water after other rebel bosses rejected it and the insurgents' backers in the Kremlin dubbed it a "private initiative."

However, it sparked fears it could drive another nail into the coffin of a stalled peace process that has failed to end a conflict that has claimed 10,000 lives.

A deal brokered by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in the Belarusian capital Minsk in 2015 has hit a wall but is still viewed by those involved as the only way of unwinding Ukraine's war.

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