(Adds context, quotes, Poroshenko reaction)
MOSCOW, June 24 President Vladimir Putin asked
Russia's upper house on Tuesday to revoke the right it had
granted him to order a military intervention in Ukraine in
defence of Russian-speakers there, the Kremlin said in a
The step seems certain to be welcomed by the West as a sign
Moscow could be ready to help engineer a settlement in Ukraine's
largely Russian-speaking east, where a pro-Russian uprising
against Kiev began in April.
Putin's spokesman said Putin's move was aimed at assisting
the fledgling peace talks to end the conflict.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called it a "first
practical step" following Putin's statement of support last
weekend for Poroshenko's peace plan for eastern Ukraine.
In the March 1 resolution, the Federation Council had
granted Putin the right to "use the Russian Federation's Armed
Forces on the territory of Ukraine until the social and
political situation in that country normalises".
That resolution, together with Russia's annexation of Crimea
from Ukraine, helped to send East-West relations to their lowest
ebb since the Cold War and led the United States and Europe to
impose sanctions on Moscow.
European Union foreign ministers on Monday held out the
prospect of further sanctions if Russia did not do more to
support a peace process in eastern Ukraine, and also asked it to
revoke the March 1 resolution.
Since then, rebels in eastern Ukraine have agreed to a
temporary ceasefire to give time for peace talks in a forum
where Russia is represented alongside the Kiev government and
the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Russian shares rose strongly, with the dollar-denominated
RTS index rising almost 1 percent immediately after the
news, hitting levels not seen since mid-January, before the
Ukraine crisis flared up in earnest. The rouble was also higher.
"The president has filed a proposal to the Federation
Council on cancelling ... the resolution on the use of Russia's
Armed Forces on the territory of Ukraine," the Kremlin said in a
statement on its website.
Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said the
chamber would discuss Putin's request on June 25.
The deputy head of the chamber's international affairs
committee, Andrei Klimov, said he expected the resolution to
pass, according to the RIA Novosti agency.
(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel and Gabriela Baczynska;
Editing by Ralph Boulton)