MOSCOW: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to help free a team of OSCE observers that had been captured in Ukraine, the Kremlin said.
"Angela Merkel made a request to help facilitate the release of military observers from a number of European countries including Germany that had been detained in the southeast of Ukraine," the Kremlin said following phone talks between the two leaders.
"Both sides noted the importance of utilising the mediating potential of the OSCE across Ukraine to the maximum degree."
Putin for his part reiterated Moscow's calls for Kiev to pull back troops from the rebel-held east.
"Vladimir Putin stressed that the most important thing today is to withdraw military units from the southeastern regions, stop violence, to immediately launch a wide national dialogue as part of a constitutional reform with the involvement of all regions and political forces."
The Kremlin said the two leaders agreed to speak again shortly. (AFP)