The leaders of Germany and France are due in Moscow Friday to present a new peace proposal aimed at ending an upsurge in fighting in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will present their proposal to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, a day after meeting in Kyiv with Ukraine's Western-backed President Petro Poroshenko.
The meeting was closed to the media, and no details of the European peace initiative were disclosed. Poroshenko said the plan "raised hopes" for a cease-fire.
Earlier Thursday in Kyiv, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry blamed pro-Russian separatists and the Kremlin for the escalating violence in eastern Ukraine, saying President Putin "can make the choices that could end this war."
Kerry spoke after talks with the president. "We want a diplomatic resolution," he said. "But we can not close our eyes to the tanks that are crossing the [Russian] border coming into Ukraine."
Russia has repeatedly denied direct involvement in the 10-month rebellion, which has claimed nearly 5,400 lives.
Speaking in Paris ahead of the trip, Hollande said he and Ms. Merkel would present the Russian president with "a new solution to the conflict, based on the territorial integrity of Ukraine."
Ahead of his meeting with Kerry, Ukraine's president told Germany's Die Welt newspaper the recent upsurge in fighting should move NATO to provide Ukraine with more support, including modern weapons.
"We still need a lot of military, technical, and specialist help to improve the fighting strength of the Ukrainian army," Poroshenko said in the interview. The Obama administration is evaluating those proposals, but has so far stopped short of providing Kyiv with lethal aid.
In Moscow, the Kremlin reported Putin held an emergency meeting of his advisory Security Council to discuss the Ukraine situation, in light of Friday's meeting with Merkel and Hollande.
Fighting in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine surged after last week's breakdown of the latest round of peace talks aimed at ending the rebellion.
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