MOSCOW, June 22 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke Sunday about Ukraine's recently declared ceasefire, calling it both an "important step" and asserting that "Russia will certainly support these plans."
"I think what is happening in Ukraine is an immense tragedy. ... The fact that President Poroshenko has declared a ceasefire is without question an important step towards reaching a final settlement, and perhaps is one of the most important conditions for this to happen. Russia will certainly support these plans."
Putin also expressed support for inclusive political dialogue.
" It is important that this ceasefire open the way to a dialogue between all of the parties to the combat, so as to find solutions that will be acceptable to all sides, in order to ensure that people in southeast Ukraine have no doubt that they are an integral part of the country, have the same rights as all other citizens, and know that these rights are guaranteed, including by Ukraine's constitution. This requires a substantial and detailed dialogue."
When Ukrainian President Poroshenko announced the ceasefire, he said that he hoped it would give not only pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine the opportunity to disarm but also to encourage Russian mercenaries to depart.
A day before Poroshenko declared the ceasefire in Ukraine's restive eastern region, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reported Russia had increased its military presence along Ukraine's border, adding "at least a few thousand more troops" in what NATO viewed as "a very regrettable step backwards" for Russian aggression toward Ukraine.