WASHINGTON, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Amid growing calls for a fresh ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, the country's president told U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden on Thursday that both Russia and the separatists were rejecting his efforts in this regard.
In a phone conversation with Biden, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he had suggested a number of venues, including in Ukraine and Russia, for negotiating a ceasefire with the separatists still fighting the government forces despite heavy losses in recent days.
"All of these offers were refused either by Russia or the separatists," the White House quoted Poroshenko as telling Biden.
Poroshenko told German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the phone earlier in the day that Kiev was ready for a bilateral ceasefire.
Biden welcomed Ukraine's "continued efforts to negotiate a ceasefire as well as a roadmap" for implementing Poroshenko's peace plan in an effort to put Ukraine on a "long-term path to stability," the White House said.
It said the pair agreed on the need to quickly put in place an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe border monitoring mission in Ukraine that could be expanded to monitor a future truce.
Biden told Poroshenko that Washington was discussing with its partners "the need to hold Russia accountable for its continued support for the separatists," including its provision of heavy weapons and equipment across the border.
The peace plan mapped out by Poroshenko on June 7 in his inauguration speech calls for a cease-fire, amnesty for militants to lay down their arms, safe conduct for Russian fighters back to Russia, and broad decentralization of authority to Ukraine's regions.
Poroshenko ended a 10-day ceasefire on July 1 in Ukraine's east, blaming the insurgent forces for failing to observe the truce. The Ukrainian military then resumed its offensive in the states of Donetsk and Lugansk.
According to the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, 23 of the total 36 districts seized by militants in the two states have been retaken by Kiev.
Russia on Thursday expressed its regrets over what it called expanded "punitive operation" in eastern Ukraine.
"We are seeing that Ukraine is not curbing violence. On the contrary, the punitive operation is getting tougher and it is spiraling and spreading," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.
"Russia wants to settle down the Ukraine crisis as soon as possible," he added. "The implementation of the Berlin agreements, especially the ceasefire regime, should be the top priority."