Merkel Turns to Putin for Help on OSCE Hostage Crisis
Russia's President Vladimir Putin demanded that Ukrainian forces pull back from the south-east of their country in a conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
A phone call between the two has held as Merkel decided to ask Putin for help in the OSCE hostage crisis of the last few days, Der Spiegel magazine has reported.
No promises were made by Russia's head of state, but Kremlin officials said the two leaders had agreed to communicate again in a short time.
Speaking to the German Chancellor, Putin said that an end to violence in the south-eastern parts of Ukraine was now a "central target".
The Russian President already said on Tuesday for a television channel in his country that he hoped rebels in Slaviansk would soon release the OSCE military observers.
Both he and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov seem to be backing the idea of expanding the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)'s mandate in Ukraine and setting up talks between Kiev and separatist representatives from the unrest-torn regions brokered by members of the organization.
Last week rebels controlling Ukraine's town of Slaviansk captured a team of eight OSCE monitors and one interpreter. Four of the hostages are German. A Swede was released by the separatists over the weekend for medical reasons.