German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his influence with pro-Kremlin separatists in eastern Ukraine to bring an end to the conflict in the region.
Merkel telephoned the Russian leader at his request following her talks on Monday in Berlin with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the chancellor's spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
"The chancellor made it clear to President Putin that the security situation in the eastern Ukraine had to be improved in order to ensure further progress towards a comprehensive political settlement," Seibert said.
At a joint press conference on Monday, Poroshenko and Merkel ruled out an early end to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow in 2014 for its involvement in eastern Ukraine.
However, Russia has repeatedly rejected allegations by Western governments and Kiev that it has provided troops and weapons for the conflict. Russia maintains that it only supports the separatists' cause and is using its influence to seek a resolution to the conflict.
However, fulfilling the conditions set out in the Minsk peace deal is obligatory if Russia wants the sanctions to be withdrawn, EU and US officials have said.
In her telephone conversation with the Kremlin leader, Merkel told Putin that the region's ceasefire, which was agreed to a year ago in the Belarus capital of Minsk had to be respected.
She also told him that OSCE observers had to be given unrestricted access to the entire conflict zone to ensure permanent security, including on Ukraine's border with Russia.
"Here Russia must use its influence on the separatists," Merkel told Putin, with the chancellor also stressing the need for laws to pave the way for local elections in the eastern Ukrainian district of Donbass to be drafted as quickly as possible.
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