Continued from page 1

Poroshenko discussed the details of his peace plan on the phone Thursday with Putin, and his office says he emphasized the need for introducing effective border controls and quickly releasing hostages seized by the rebels.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Russian officials were surprised at Western expressions of concern over the renewed troop buildup, saying it was merely a previously announced measure to tighten border controls.

“This is not a matter of some sort of concentration of forces, but of the strengthening of border controls of the Russian Federation,” Peskov was quoted as saying by the Itar-TASS news agency.

But a senior NATO military officer told The Associated Press in Brussels that the Russians are issuing misleading statements to cover their troop movements - something they had also done in Crimea, along the border with Ukraine and now in eastern Ukraine. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal NATO information.

Separately, Putin’s foreign policy aide, Yuri Ushakov, said the Russian president is committed to dialogue on Ukraine and is planning to have a phone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama in the coming days.

Ushakov also mentioned that Putin, on a visit to Austria next week, would be meeting with the chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to discuss Poroshenko’s peace plan.

___

Nataliya Vasilyeva contributed from Moscow. John-Thor Dahlburg contributed from Brussels.