Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Monday said he supported widening the terms for a proposed UN force to protect observers monitoring the conflict in eastern Ukraine, but his proposal was unlikely to get Kiev’s agreement. Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a phone call that he was willing to see the mission operate “not only on the front line after the warring sides and their hardware is pulled back, but also in other areas” where the monitors operate, the Kremlin said. Russia last week asked the UN Security Council to authorise the deployment of a lightly-armed mission to protect international observers monitoring the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Originally Putin proposed allowing the mission to operate exclusively along the dividing line between the two sides. Merkel’s office said in a statement that Putin shifted his position after the German leader insisted that “some changes in the mandate were necessary.” “President Putin reacted positively, saying he backs removing the limits of deployment of the UN mission,” the German Chancellery said. Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of being behind the insurgency in a conflict that has killed 10,000 people since 2014. Despite overwhelming evidence of its involvement, Moscow continues to deny that it has played a role in the fighting. Some 600 observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are on the ground in eastern Ukraine but their presence has failed to stop the fighting. A peace plan brokered by Germany and France in 2015 has hit a wall, with Russia and Ukraine accusing each other of not fulfilling their obligations. | Citizen Confidential

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