Germany: 'Unacceptable' that Russian Federation accepts separatist Ukraine passports

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference after a meeting with Uruguayan President in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference after a meeting with Uruguayan President in Moscow

Mr Putin's surprise order came as the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany met on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference to try to salvage the badly-shaken Minsk deal.

"The Russian side's decision is a response to the unilateral and deliberate sabotage of the Minsk agreements by the Ukrainian side", Kosachev emphasized.

Two diplomats said Russian and Russia-backed fighters in the separatist territories had "provoked" their Ukrainian adversaries, and the Ukrainian side had reacted forcefully.

The Times reported that the proposal discussed at last month's meeting included a plan to require the withdrawal of Russian forces from Eastern Ukraine.

The French foreign ministry said it "regrets this decision" by Russian Federation, and urged Moscow to use its influence over the separatists to halt the fighting with Ukrainian government troops that has killed some 10,000 people since April 2014.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied having knowledge of the plan Monday, telling journalists: "How can Russian Federation lease its own region?"

In an interview to Radio Free Europe, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Secretary-General Lamberto Zannier said that the order signed by Putin would not help the chances of ceasefire to even take hold.

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Ukrainian authorities have denounced Putin's decision and say the order violates the Minsk peace process, criticisms echoed by France, Germany and the European Union capital Brussels.

It called for the "bilateral cessation of the use of all weapons", and the decentralization of power in the region "with respect to the temporary status of local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and the Lugansk regions".

But the appearance of the name of Felix Sater in this new article in the Times is one of the biggest shoes I've seen drop on the Trump story in some time. (Manafort told The Washington Post that he has "no role" in Artemenko's initiative.) The Times reports that Artemenko views himself "as a Trump-style leader of a future Ukraine" and claimed to have evidence of corruption by Poroshenko that could lead to his ejection from office.

Cohen, the president's personal lawyer and long-time confidant, and Felix H. Sater, a former Trump business associate with ties to Russian Federation, are reported to have met with Ukrainian parliament member Andrii V. Artemenko in New York City days before Flynn's resignation, according to The New York Times.

"It's better to have this new deal rather than not to have (it)", he said.

But a military spokesman from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Eduard Basurin, told AFP that the truce had largely held since midnight with "almost no attacks".

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