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Ukraine

Confusion as Ukraine and Russia announce peace progress

Ukraine and Russia have announced common ground and what appears to be a truce in their ongoing conflict. Kyiv has spoken of a "ceasefire regime" while Moscow has denied any ceasefire but steps towards "peace."

Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday announced a ceasefire had been reached with Russia. But following an immediate denial by the Kremlin, Poroshenko watered down his comments.

"The parties reached mutual understanding on the steps that will facilitate the establishment of peace," the second statement read.

Poroshenko had earlier said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on a "permanent ceasefire" in eastern Ukraine.

But the Kremlin denied this, saying the two leaders had only agreed on steps towards peace in eastern Ukraine, because Russia was "not a party to the conflict."

"Putin and Poroshenko really discussed the steps that would contribute to a ceasefire between the militia and the Ukrainian forces. Russia cannot physically agree to a ceasefire because it is not a party to the conflict," said Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov.

That position is disputed by Kyiv and Western governments, which say Russian troops are fighting alongside the pro-Moscow separatists.

Obama: "too early to tell"

US President Barack Obama told a news conference in Estonia that "it's too early to tell" how serious the truce reports were.

Obama said no realistic deal can be achieved if Russia continues to aid separatists by sending send tanks and troops into Ukraine.

The US President was speaking after talks with Baltic leaders. His trip is aimed at reassuring Eastern European nations anxious over Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

It comes a day ahead of a NATO summit in Newport, Wales, in which Obama and Western allies will approve plans to position at least 4,000 troops and military equipment in Eastern Europe.

Almost 2,600 people have died in Ukraine's conflict since April, when separatists began battling government forces shortly after Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in March.

Earlier on Wednesday, it was announced that Russian photojournalist Andrei Stenin had been killed in eastern Ukraine. Stenin had gone missing in August.

jr/slk (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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