MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday unveiled a seven-point plan for peace in Ukraine that he said could be approved by rival sides in the conflict during talks scheduled for on Friday.
"In order to halt bloodletting and stabilise the situation in southeastern Ukraine" Mr Putin called on both Kiev and pro-Russian separatists to quickly agree to implement his roadmap. The first point is a "halt to active offensive operations by military forces and armed rebel units" around the rebel strongholds of Donetsk and Lugansk, Mr Putin said in televised comments during a visit to the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator.
The roadmap also calls for a withdrawal by Ukrainian forces to positions from which they cannot shell cities, and a halt to airstrikes by Kiev's military. It also calls for deploying international observers to monitor a ceasefire, the unconditional release of all prisoners, the establishment of corridors for refugees and humanitarian aid, and the dispatch of aid to rebuild infrastructure in Donetsk and Lugansk, which have been the brunt of intense fighting.
"I believe that a final agreement between the authorities of Kiev and south-eastern Ukraine can be reached and cemented during a meeting of the Contact Group on September 5," said Mr Putin.
The Ukraine Contact Group, which includes representatives of Kiev, the separatist rebels, Moscow and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is scheduled to meet on Friday.
Meanwhile, United States President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Nato to send an "unmistakable message of support" to Ukraine ahead of an alliance summit in Wales.
Mr Obama also called on members of the military alliance to "step up" to their responsibilities in a speech to university students in Estonia's capital Tallinn as part of a visit to Baltic states spooked by apparent Russian meddling in eastern Ukraine.