Ukraine's president says he expects the government to restore control over the separatist-held eastern Ukraine before the year's end.

A military conflict between government forces and Russia-backed rebels has killed more than 9,000 people and left parts of the Ukrainian industrial heartland in ruin since fighting broke out there in April 2014.

Speaking at his annual news conference in Kiev, President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday he is convinced that the government "should restore its sovereignty" over eastern Ukraine this year, adding that he is going to use all legal means and international talks to do that.

Negotiators at the Ukraine peace talks on Wednesday promised to make new efforts to enforce the shaky cease-fire, but the political solution to the conflict seems to be far off.