Putin calls Obama, suggests ‘possible steps’ to calm Ukraine

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MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested to his US counterpart Barack Obama in a phone call between the two leaders that the international community could examine joint steps to calm the situation in Ukraine, the Kremlin said Saturday.

Putin in the call also raised alarm over what he described as the “continued outbursts by extremists” in Kiev and also over the situation in the largely-Russian speaking rebel Moldovan region of Transdniestr.

The White House said earlier that Putin called Obama to discuss a US proposal on solving the crisis in Ukraine, after Russia seized the Black Sea region of Crimea and massed tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s eastern border.

“The Russian leader suggested examining possible steps of the international community to help stabilise the situation,” the Kremlin said, without specifying what these steps would entail.

“The concrete parameters of this joint work will be discussed” by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry soon, the statement added.

In the call, Putin also raised concern over the situation in Transdneistr, a sliver of Moldovan territory bordering Ukraine which broke away from control of the Moldovan government in the wake of the fall of the USSR.

Putin said there was a “de-facto external blockade of Transdniestr” which was hampering the lives of its inhabitants. The self-declared statelet is recognised by no government.
But Putin appeared to suggest that the Transdniestr issue should be solved not by force but by talks in the “5+2″ format of Moldova, Transdniestr, the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine plus the EU and the US as observers.

“It was emphasised that Russia is in favour of a fair and acceptable regulation of the Transdniestr problem and is interested in seeing the current 5+2 negotiating format work effectively.”

Putin also told Obama that Russia was still alarmed over the situation in Ukraine after the fall of president Viktor Yanukovych.
“There are continued outbursts by extremists, unpunished acts of intimidation,” he was quoted as saying by the Kremlin.

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