WASHINGTON, June 24 (Xinhua) -- The White House on Tuesday welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin's request for revoking a resolution authorizing the use of Russian military forces in Ukraine, calling for actions by Moscow to end clashes in Ukraine's east.
Spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States welcomed "any Russian steps to end the crisis in Ukraine," including Putin's call for the authorization to use force to be annulled, and pro- Russia separatists' acceptance on Monday of the ceasefire declared by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last Friday.
Russia's upper house of parliament gave Putin the power to use forces in Ukraine on March 1, after Ukraine's then pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in an abrupt development of events.
Putin on Tuesday asked for ending the power with a view to " normalizing the atmosphere and resolving the situation in the eastern regions of Ukraine," and in connection with the start of three-way negotiations over the crisis, the Kremlin said.
"In the coming days, it's actions, not just words, that will be critical," Earnest told reporters at a daily news briefing, noting President Barack Obama made the point clear to Putin in their phone conversation Monday.
"The United States remains concerned about the continued presence of Russian forces along the border, and pre-positioned heavy weaponry that we believe is intended for separatists," he said.
"Moving these forces away from the border, ceasing support for separatists, and calling on separatists to continue to abide by the ceasefire and disarm would send a clear signal that Russia is interested in a diplomatic settlement resulting in stability in eastern Ukraine," he said, adding the de-escalatory moves would make additional sanctions on Moscow "less likely."
Putin called for an extension of the week-long ceasefire to make more time for a peaceful resolution when meeting with his Austrian counterpart Heinz Fischer during a visit to Austria Tuesday, while Poroshenko threatened to end the truce following the killings of nine Ukrainian servicemen after their military helicopter was downed by insurgents in eastern Ukraine.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the incident was not the end of the ceasefire. "What this ceasefire and the negotiations surrounding it are really Ukraine's best chance for peace," she told reporters at a daily press briefing.