Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he will sign a key economic agreement with the European Union to promote his pro-Western stance.
Poroshenko said in France on Thursday that he declared a weeklong ceasefire last Friday to halt the fighting between government and pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. But he said that since that time, 18 Ukrainian servicemen and a baby have been killed.
Poroshenko said Russia's support for ending the violence has so far been insufficient. The president urged Moscow to exert its influence over pro-Russian separatists. He said Russia should support his peace plan not just with words, but with deeds.
Poroshenko said Ukraine's choice is to build a strong democracy that will hold a respected place in the family of European nations.
He clarified his intention to sign the Association Agreement with the EU on Friday. The pact centers on trade liberalization and will pave way for Ukraine to obtain EU membership.
However, Russia is expected to protest the move. The ceasefire is set to expire Friday and there is no prospect for the fighting to end.
These factors are prompting concerns that region surrounding Ukraine may destabilize.
Jun. 26, 2014 - Updated 22:34 UTC