“That President Poroshenko announced a truce is without a doubt an important part of a final settlement, without which no agreement can be reached, and there is no doubt that Russia will support this intention, but in the end the most important thing is a political process,” Putin said.
Putin discussed the cease-fire on Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, Merkel’s office and the Kremlin said.
“After the Russian government too referred to the cease-fire in positive terms, the interlocutors emphasized the need for all sides to abide by it now and for a political dialogue to be put in motion,” Merkel’s office said in a statement. “Another topic of the conversation was the issue of securing the Ukrainian-Russian border.”
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden welcomed Ukraine’s unilateral cease-fire declaration in a telephone conversation with Poroshenko, but expressed concern that separatist leaders have refused to reciprocate, Biden’s office said in a statement.
In Kiev, Poroshenko also addressed his nation on the day on which Ukrainians and Russians mourn the millions who died during World War II. He called for peace, but urged his compatriots to stand strong and united.
“It was so during the violent struggle against the Nazis and it should be the same now,” Poroshenko said. “Facing a real threat, we must unite even more and secure our historical choice, defend our right to live freely on our land.”
Also Sunday, a few hundred pro-Ukrainian activists marched outside Kiev Pechersk Lavra, a revered Orthodox monastery, which was guarded by riot police, some on horseback. The activists had come to prevent pro-Russian supporters from holding their own march at the monastery, which is under the jurisdiction of the Moscow patriarchy.
Putin has appealed to both sides to halt all military operations and sit down at the negotiating table.