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Hollande warns of war if Ukraine peace plan fails after Putin meeting

media German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R), Russian President Vladimir Putin and France's François Hollande meet at the Kremlin Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev

French President François Hollande on Saturday warned that the Ukraine peace plan he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed with Russia’s Vladimir Putin overnight is “one of the last chances” to avoid war. Russian officials called the talks “a chance for peace”.

“I think this is one of our last chances,” Hollande said of the plan that has now been discussed with Putin and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. “If we don’t reach and agreement for a lasting peace, we know the scenario – it has a name, it is called war.”

Earlier Merkel commented that it was not certain that the talks would lead to anything but “I agree with President François Hollande that it is worth trying”.

Hollande and Merkel were all at the annual international security conference in Munich, Germany, on Saturday.

Merkel was expected to hold trilateral talks there with Poroshenko and US Vice-President Joe Biden, followed by meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Merkel and Hollande met Putin in Moscow for five hours on Friday night and made no comment on leaving Moscow.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said that the talks had been “constructive and substantial” there was agreement on a possible joint peace plan.

The chair of the Russian parliament’s foreign policy committee, Aleksey Pushkov, welcomed the talks.

“Poroshenko is only capable of shelling,” he tweeted. “The US continues to instigate war. The Merkel-Hollande-Putin talks give peace a chance.”

In Munich Poroshenko agreed that the initiative could work.

The plan is based on last year’s Minsk agreement, which was not observed, and reportedly incorporates conditions posed by both Poroshenko and Putin.

Nato's top military commander in Europe, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove said on Saturday that the military option should not be ruled out, adding that he was not talking about “boots on the ground”.

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