Russia criticised over crisis in Ukraine at NATO summit

Sep 04, 2014, 7:02 AM EDT
A Typhoon fighter jet stands at the front of the Celtic Manor Hotel during the NATO Summit on September 4, 2014 in Newport, Wales.
AFP/Getty Images

Western leaders have criticised Russia for its "destabilising" influence on the crisis in Ukraine, at the start of a Nato summit in Wales. The BBC reports:

Nato and the UK warned that pressure on Russia would be increased if it did not change course in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine's president is briefing US and EU leaders on earlier discussions on a ceasefire plan with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Some 2,600 people have died in fighting between Ukrainian troops and rebels.

The West says it has evidence that Mr Putin is supporting the separatists with training and arms, but Russia denies this. The conflict has forced more than a million people from their homes in eastern Ukraine, according to latest United Nations estimates.

The two-day Nato summit in Newport will be dominated by the crisis in Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin outlined plans for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday but Ukraine's prime minister dismissed the proposal, while France expressed its disapproval of Moscow's support for separatist forces by halting delivery of a warship. Reuters reports:

After speaking to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko by phone, Putin said he believed Kiev and pro-Russian separatists could reach agreement at planned talks in Minsk on Friday.

"Our views on the way to resolve the conflict, as it seemed to me, are very close," Putin told reporters during a visit to the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, describing the seven steps he had put forward to secure a resolution to the crisis.

They included separatists halting offensive operations, Ukrainian forces pulling back, an end to Ukrainian air strikes, the creation of humanitarian aid corridors, the rebuilding of damaged infrastructure and prisoner exchanges.

Poroshenko indicated the conversation with Putin had injected some momentum into efforts to end a conflict that has killed more than 2,600 people since April, saying he hoped the "peace process will finally begin" at Friday's talks and that he and Putin had a "mutual understanding" on steps towards peace.