Putin Calls for Ceasefire in Ukraine Russian president wants both sides to enter talks day after plane is shot down By Jenn Gidman, Newser Staff Posted Jul 18, 2014 9:26 AM CDT 69 comments Comments Russia's President Vladimir Putin arrives for an official group photo comprised of the leaders of the BRICS' nations and South American nations in Brasilia, Brazil, July 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) (Newser) – One day after a Malaysia Airlines commercial airliner was shot down over Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is asking all involved parties in the conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists for a ceasefire, saying “peace in Ukraine must prevail as soon as possible,” AP reports. In comments broadcast by Russian news agencies today, the Russian president requested that the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels start direct talks to resolve the five-month-old conflict, which has so far killed at least 400 people and displaced tens of thousands, according to ABC News. As the world tries to piece together what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Russia today also officially denied any involvement, reports the New York Times. “In view of various types of speculation concerning operations of the Russian armed forces in the areas bordering Ukraine, we affirm that the antiaircraft means of the Russian armed forces did not operate in that region on July 17,” said a defense ministry statement. The Ukraine government has similarly denied involvement, and it says it has audio suggesting that pro-Russian rebels shot down the plane after mistaking it for a military aircraft.