Ukrainian president demands immediate ceasefire in Donbas

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KIEV, July 24 (Xinhua) -- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he will demand a real ceasefire in Donbas, including the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, during a phone meeting of the Normandy Four held on Monday.

The peace deals reached in Minsk is the only available solution to the military conflict in eastern Ukraine at the moment, said Poroshenko on his page in Facebook on Sunday. He also stressed that he will continue to call for tougher Western sanctions against Russia if immediate ceasefire is not realized.

Leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine, known as the Normandy Four, agree to hold a phone meeting to discuss the conflict situation in Donbas on Monday after mediation by France.

The Normandy Four or the Normandy Format is a diplomatic group of leaders from the four countries set up to resolve the Ukrainian crisis in accordance with peace deals reached in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, in February 2015.

The situation in eastern Ukraine has been showing an escalating trend in the past few days, with both sides using heavy weapons prohibited in the Minsk agreements. According to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, at least 13 Ukrainian government soldiers were killed in actions last week, which was rare in the past months.

Ukrainian media reported that the phone meeting on Monday can ease the tension in eastern Ukraine, but is unlikely to lead to a breakthrough on critical issues like ensuring security in conflict zones, prisoner swap, control of Ukraine-Russian borders in the conflict area and the election in the regions under opposition's control. Enditem

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