Baku-APA. Ukraine's president said on Friday there could be no military solution to his country's crisis and said he hoped "a very fragile" ceasefire in the east would hold, allowing him to focus on rebuilding the shattered economy, APA reports quoting Reuters.
Petro Poroshenko also said a new wave of European Union sanctions against Russia underlined Western solidarity with Kiev, and that the Ukrainian and EU parliaments could both ratify a deal on closer economic and political ties on Sept. 16.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who denies Western and Ukrainian accusations that he is fuelling the conflict, said the new sanctions were aimed at disrupting the peace process. Washington also expanded its own sanctions on Friday.
Ukrainian forces have been battling pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine for five months in a conflict in which more than 3,000 people have been killed. The two sides have been broadly observing a ceasefire since last Friday, despite sporadic violations.
"There is no military solution for this crisis," Poroshenko told EU and Ukrainian lawmakers and businessmen at the annual Yalta European Strategy conference - held in Kiev, not Yalta, due to Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in March.
"I hope the very fragile but efficient peace process which started exactly one week ago will have a continuation, for the (sake of) stable peace and security on the continent," he said, speaking in English.
Poroshenko said Ukraine's "association agreement" on closer EU ties, due to be ratified next week, provided a road map for the reforms that he said would be a priority after a parliamentary election on Oct. 26, provided that peace held in the east. But he stressed national security had to come first.
"Investors will come when they feel safe in this country. That is why we are reforming the very ineffective security system and army, our court system ... If we do not reform these things, even after the war, investors won't come," he said.
"I know personally how harmful the state can be for the investment climate," added Poroshenko, a billionaire former businessman once nicknamed the "Chocolate King" for making his fortune in confectionery.
Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko, citing government data, said the conflict in eastern Ukraine had so far cost around 1 billion dollars. Another government official said at least 270,000 people had been displaced by the war.