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Kremlin

Kremlin warns Ukraine against joining NATO

The Kremlin on Thursday underscored Russia’s opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine, warning that such a move could derail efforts to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as leaders of the alliance gathered for a key summit in Wales.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also told the United States not to try to impose its own will on Kiev.

Lavrov’s comments came one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a plan to end the fighting that would entrench gains by pro-Russian rebels and hand a significant defeat to Ukrainian leaders who have sought to regain full control of their nation. Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said they hoped that peace talks could start Friday in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.

Poroshenko and the heads of the rebel factions said Thursday their forces would observe a cease-fire, effective Friday at 2 p.m. in Ukraine (7 a.m. Eastern time), provided that the parties agreed to the terms in Minsk.

In a joint statement, the leaders of separatist factions in Donetsk and Luhansk said they would order a cease-fire “if an agreement is reached and the representatives of Ukraine will sign a plan for a political settlement to the conflict.” Poroshenko, who is attending a NATO summit in Wales, also said he expects to order a cease-fire at the same time, pending an agreement at the Minsk talks.

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