MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday urged militants in southeastern Ukraine to open a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian soldiers to allow them to get out of the combat areas.
"I am calling on forces to open a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian soldiers in order to avoid senseless casualties, enable them to get out of the combat areas, reunite with their families and to provide urgent medical aid," the presidential address released by the Kremlin press service said.
The militants have succeeded in cutting short Kiev's military operation, "which has already resulted in tremendous casualties among civilians", Putin said.
"Russia is ready and will continue to provide humanitarian aid for the Ukrainian people suffering from a humanitarian disaster," he added.
He urged the Kiev authorities "to immediately abandon combat actions, cease fire, and sit down at the negotiating table together with representatives of Ukraine's eastern regions in order to settle, exclusively in a peaceful way, all the problems that have piled up."
The conflict between government troops and pro-Russian militants has killed more than 2,000 people in eastern and southeastern Ukraine, with thousands of others displaced.