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U.S. special envoy welcomes Putin idea on U.N. peacekeepers in Ukraine

KIEV (Reuters) - Russia’s apparent backing for the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine gives negotiators more ideas with which to seek a resolution to the separatist conflict, the U.S. envoy to Ukraine peace talks said on Sunday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week floated the idea of deploying U.N. troops to eastern Ukraine in a call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, suggesting the U.N. mission could protect observers from the international OSCE monitoring mission.

Asked if he thought this suggestion improved the outlook for ending the fighting, U.S. special envoy Kurt Volker said: “There’s more on the table now that we can work with.”

“I hope that we’re creative and determined and able to take advantage of it,” he told journalists on the sidelines of the annual Yalta European Strategy conference in Kiev.

Volker, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, was appointed to his current role on July 7 to help end the conflict between Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists, which has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014.

“The status quo is not good for anybody, and I think Russia sees that,” Volker said. “We have a context where the status quo is not stable.”

Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Hugh Lawson