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    Ukraine says peace plan has support of other nations

    MINSK, Belarus — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said early Wednesday that he has support for a peace plan from leaders who attended a summit meeting in Minsk, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Interfax news agency reported.

    But there were no indications that would mean an immediate end to the fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in which about 2,000 civilians and more than 700 Ukrainian troops have died.

    Putin said separately he had an ‘‘overall positive assessment’’ of Tuesday’s meetings, which included face-to-face talks with Poroshenko.


    Putin told reporters there was no discussion of a cease-fire in Ukraine because Russia is not a party to the conflict. Moscow is accused by Kiev and the West of arming and supporting the rebels — a charge the Kremlin denies.

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    In addition to their one-on-one meeting, Putin and Poroshenko met in a general session with the presidents of Kazakhstan and Belarus, and top European Union officials.

    The meeting came on the same day Ukraine said it captured 10 Russian soldiers who had come over the border.

    Putin did not directly address the allegation but appeared to tacitly recognize it and suggested that the soldiers simply had become lost.

    ‘‘Ukrainian soldiers have found themselves on our side, too,’’ he told reporters.


    The fighting in eastern Ukraine also expanded to a new front. The area around the city of Novoazovsk, strategically positioned on roads linking Russia with Crimea, which Moscow annexed in March, has come under heavy artillery fire the past two days.

    Shortly after Poroshenko took office in June, he released a peace plan that included amnesty for those not accused of serious crimes and some decentralization of power.

    ‘‘I can say that the logic of this peaceful plan was finally supported by all, without exclusion, of the heads of state,’’ Interfax quoted him as saying.

    Getting the rebels to accept the plan, however, would be a key issue, and Russia appears either unable or unwilling to exert influence on the separatists to end their fight.

    The general summit meeting began with a stiff and awkward handshake between Poroshenko and Putin, their first meeting since a brief encounter at a D-Day remembrance ceremony in June.


    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told reporters the talks at the summit were ‘‘tough,’’ but stopped short of saying they had failed.

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    ‘‘Sadly, the situation there [in Ukraine] has gone so far that in the absence of agreements in principle, any steps or technical accords are not going to lead to settlement,’’ he said.

    Poroshenko is under pressure to seek a negotiated settlement and not a military victory. He said the purpose of his visit was to start searching for a political compromise and promised that the interests of Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine would be taken into account.

    ‘‘The fate of peace and the fate of Europe are being decided in Minsk today,’’ Poroshenko said in his opening remarks.

    In his opening statement, Putin argued that Ukraine’s decision to sign an association agreement with the 28-nation EU would lead to huge losses for Russia, which would then be forced to protect its economy. Russia had been counting on Ukraine joining a rival economic union it is forming with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

    Ukraine is set to ratify the EU association agreement in September.

    Putin also said the conflict ‘‘could not be solved by further escalation of the military scenario without taking into account the vital interests of the southeast of the country and without a peaceful dialogue of its representatives.’’

    Ukraine wants the rebels to hand back the territory they have captured in eastern Ukraine, while Putin wants to retain some sort of leverage over the mostly Russian-speaking region so Ukraine does not join NATO or the European Union.

    Russia has called frequently for Ukraine to federalize — devolving wide powers to the regions from the central government in Kiev. Poroshenko has resisted that move but he could agree to give the regions some expanded powers. Poroshenko also has spoken against holding a referendum on Ukraine’s joining NATO.

    Putin has so far ignored requests from the rebels to be annexed by Russia, unlike in March, when he annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. But Associated Press journalists on the border have seen the rebels with a wide range of unmarked military equipment — including tanks, Buk missile launchers and armored personnel carriers — and have run into many Russians among the rebel fighters.

    Ukraine’s antirebel operation said on its Facebook page that 10 soldiers from a Russian paratrooper division were captured Monday around Amvrosiivka, a town near the Russian border.

    Ukraine’s posting included videos of five of the men. One, who identified himself as Sergei Smirnov, said they were not told anything about their mission.

    ‘‘We were just traveling through fields and then we stopped in the middle of the field and the BMP2 [armored vehicle] broke down,’’ he said.

    Asked if he knew they were on Ukrainian territory, he said: ‘‘When we got into the village we saw a tank with Ukrainian flag. Then we understood.’’ He said they then came under fire.

    Russian news agencies quoted an unidentified official in the Russian Defense Ministry as saying the soldiers were patrolling the border and probably crossed it inadvertently.