Ukraine president confirms 'de-escalation' in conflict

KIEV (AFP) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko confirmed on Friday a "gradual de-escalation" in fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists, a month after a ceasefire agreement came into effect.

"The fact that we have not had military losses for several days... is a clear indication of a gradual de-escalation," Poroshenko told Ukraine's private 1+1 television network.

Poroshenko's remarks tallied with those of international ceasefire monitors, who said Thursday that the Feb 12 truce was "broadly" holding up, despite sporadic clashes in a handful of flashpoints.

Poroshenko said he was confident that Ukraine's appeals to the West for arms - which so far have fallen on deaf ears - would receive a favourable response if the rebels mounted a renewed offensive.

"If there is a new upsurge in the aggression against Ukraine, I can say with certainty that we will immediately receive lethal weapons and a new wave of sanctions against the aggressor. We will act in a tough and concerted fashion," he said.

On Wednesday the US announced plans to send Kiev military equipment worth US$75 million (S$100 million) - but not weapons.

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