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Macron to discuss Ukraine with Putin, Merkel, Poroshenko

French President Emmanuel Macron plans to hold telephone conversations with the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, and Germany in his first push to help solve the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The French presidential office said in a statement on Sunday that President Macron would make the phone calls on Monday.

The conversations with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel would be held amid a flare-up in fighting between government troops and pro-Russia forces in Ukraine’s volatile east.

This would be Macron’s first attempt at contributing to a resolution of the Ukrainian conflict since he took office in May.

Over the past few days, an outbreak of violence in eastern Ukraine has claimed the lives of 11 Ukrainian forces, the bloodiest uptick in violence in recent months.

Meanwhile, pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukrainian territories announced the creation of a new “country” early last week.

The leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, said that the region, together with a similar republic in neighboring Luhansk Province and the representatives of other Ukrainian regions would form a state called Malorossiya.

A Ukrainian serviceman fires a grenade launcher during fighting with pro-Russia forces, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, March 30, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine after people in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted for unification with Russia in March 2014. The West brands the unification as annexation of the territory by Russia. The US and its allies in Europe also accuse Russia of having a major hand in the crisis in eastern Ukraine, an allegation denied by Moscow.

The crisis has left over 10,000 people dead and more than a million others displaced, according to the United Nations.

The warring sides have signed at least two peace deals since 2014, but fighting has not ended.

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