Merkel-Hollande in Moscow to sue for peace in Ukraine

(AGI) Rome, Feb 6 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and FrenchPresident Francois Hollande travelled to Moscow on Friday topropose to Vladimir Putin their plan to end the Ukrainianconflict. Little information trickled through to the pressregarding their Thursday stopover in Kiev: the scheduled jointdeclaration by Merkel, Hollande, and Ukrainian President PetroPoroshenko was cancelled, though Ukraine's presidential officerevealed that the Franco-German initiative gives hope for aceasefire. The plan reportedly aims to stop the conflictthrough the deployment of peace forces, as in the breakawayMoldovan region of Transnistria. Kiev's authorities insistedthat they will

(AGI) Rome, Feb 6 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and FrenchPresident Francois Hollande travelled to Moscow on Friday topropose to Vladimir Putin their plan to end the Ukrainianconflict. Little information trickled through to the pressregarding their Thursday stopover in Kiev: the scheduled jointdeclaration by Merkel, Hollande, and Ukrainian President PetroPoroshenko was cancelled, though Ukraine's presidential officerevealed that the Franco-German initiative gives hope for aceasefire. The plan reportedly aims to stop the conflictthrough the deployment of peace forces, as in the breakawayMoldovan region of Transnistria. Kiev's authorities insistedthat they will not accept any solution that puts Ukraine'ssovereignty and territorial integrity at risk. "Russia cannotbe allowed to redraw the map of Europe", the U.S.Vice-President, Joe Biden, stated on Friday, especially giventhat Ukraine "is fighting for their very survival right now".The Franco-German plan aims to "defend peace" in Europe, Merkelstated, while Hollande made clear before departing for Moscowthat "everyone is aware that the first step must be thecease-fire, but that it cannot suffice. We must seek a globalsolution". However, the diplomatic offensive will not go onendlessly, he warned. Should Russia reject the proposedsolution, a number of nations might decide to provide Ukrainewith weapons. The U.S. government is reportedly assessingwhether to send "defensive" weapons, adding to tensions withMoscow, which has already decried NATO's growing presence inEastern Europe and the Baltic area. NATO's expansion is causing"serious changes in the military-political situation" onRussia's borders and constitutes a "great risk", the Russianenvoy to the alliance said, affirming that it will lead to"adequate" changes in Russia's military planning in order todefend its legitimate interests. Amidst these dauntingdevelopments, with at least 60 more Ukrainian separatistskilled by government forces in the last 24 hours, the onlypositive news is the creation of a humanitarian corridor inDebaltseve, a strategic railway hub between Donetsk and Luganskwhich has been a centre of violence for three weeks. As aresult, a convoy of buses was able to evacuate the civilianswho had remained trapped in the city. . .