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Putin in talks by phone with Merkel, Hollande, Poroshenko discusses Ukraine crisis

December 17, 2014, 2:34 updated at: December 17, 2014, 5:13 UTC+3 MOSCOW MOSCOW December, 17. /TASS

It was necessary to ensure a stable ceasefire in Donbass, the Kremlin press service said

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MOSCOW, December 17. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in talks by telephone noted it was necessary to ensure a stable ceasefire in Donbass, the Kremlin press service said on Wednesday.

Discussion of the crisis situation in Ukraine continued. The four leaders underscored the necessity to ensure a stable ceasefire in Donbass, the press service said.

They noted it was important to hold a meeting of the Contact Group as soon as possible for the implementation of the Minsk agreements and establish a dialogue between Kiev and the southeast. Among priorities are exchange of captives and withdrawal of heavy weapons from the confrontation line, they said.

The four leaders also discussed economic restoration of the eastern regions and humanitarian and social support for the population.

They agreed to continue telephone contacts in the “Norman format”, the Kremlin press service said.

Crisis in eastern Ukraine

According to the United Nations, more than 4,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s east as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April, to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics.

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire at talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

The ceasefire took effect the same day but has reportedly been violated on numerous occasions.

The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE adopted a memorandum on September 19 in Minsk, which outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.

The nine-point document in particular stipulates a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

In another attempt by both parties to the Ukrainian conflict to put an end to hostilities, the "day of silence" in eastern Ukraine began at 09:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on December 9.

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