Russian President Vladimir Putin said talks with his Ukrainian counterpart over separatist fighting that's killed more than 2,000 people were "positive" as the parties began discussions for a political resolution.
"Russia, for its part, will do everything for this peace process," Putin said Tuesday after meeting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at a summit of the Customs Union trading bloc in Minsk, Belarus, that also included other leaders. "In our opinion, it should start as soon as possible."
Poroshenko said on Twitter after the talks that Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan backed a Ukrainian peace strategy to stem battles between the army and pro-Russian insurgents who have sought to break off the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the nation's east. He didn't elaborate on what the plan entailed, and Putin didn't mention it as he addressed reporters.
Poroshenko arrived in the Belarusian capital pledging to seek a peaceful resolution to five months of unrest. Ukraine blames its neighbor for stoking the insurgency through supplies of manpower and weapons, an allegation Russia denies.
Putin said no talks were held on conditions for a cease-fire in Ukraine because Russia isn't a party to the conflict.
Even so, Russia's concerns "were heard" in Minsk and a working group will intensify efforts to stem the crisis, he said.
The Russian leader said he sees an agreement on further deliveries of humanitarian supplies to Ukraine, which was angered by what it said was an unauthorized aid convoy consisting of hundreds of Russian trucks to Luhansk last week.
Ukraine and Russia are planning military consultations, Russia's Interfax news service cited Poroshenko as saying.
Meanwhile, fighting in eastern Ukraine raged on. The government said that 200 rebels and 12 Ukrainian servicemen had died in 24 hours. Andriy Lysenko, a military spokesman, accused Russia of attempting to "create a new front" in the fighting in southern Donetsk.
Ukraine released video footage of Russian servicemen it said it captured when an armored column crossed the frontier Monday. The Defense Ministry said on Facebook that part of the column is still in Ukraine, with members of the group shelling government forces from three local villages.
Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news service cited an unidentified Defense Ministry official saying troops at the border accidentally crossed into Ukraine and didn't resist when detained.