Vladimir Putin insists that he and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko have agreed on the broad strokes of a peace plan, reports Reuters. But confusion and skepticism abound, especially because NATO is about to start a summit in which it will consider new sanctions against Moscow, along with a rapid-reaction military force that could respond to future Russian threats. The Guardian reports that it's not clear whether Putin's move will be enough to stave off new penalties. In Estonia, President Obama sounded skeptical about a deal. “We haven’t seen a lot of follow-up on so-called announced ceasefires,” he said. “Having said that," if Russia "is serious about a political settlement, that is something we all hope for.” In a subsequent speech, he blasted Russia's aggression in the region and promised that NATO would protect its allies, reports AP.
Putin said he drafted his seven-point plan after speaking with Poroshenko by phone. The New York Times: "Never at a loss for theatrical flair, Mr. Putin announced soon after arriving on a state visit to Mongolia that he had sketched out the plan in flight, brandishing a notebook page on which the first point was that both sides 'end active offensive operations.'" The Washington Post says the plan would effectively freeze the current situation on the ground in place, while forcing Ukraine forces to pull back. That is, it "would entrench rebel gains there, in what may be a significant defeat for Ukrainian leaders who have sought to regain full control of their nation’s territory." The Ukraine prime minister, a Poroshenko ally, had a harsher assessment of Putin's motives: The plan would "destroy Ukraine and bring back the Soviet Union.” Details of the proposal are expected to get hashed out Friday in Minsk by representatives of both sides. France, meanwhile, has halted the delivery of two assault ships to Russia, reports the BBC. (Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)