Ukraine's leader pushes for intl peacekeeping mission to ensure cease-fire in war-torn east

Ukraine's president has a signed a decree opening the way to a formal request for international peacekeepers to be stationed in eastern regions where government forces are battling Russian-backed separatists.

President Petro Poroshenko's office said Monday the appeal for a contingent of peacekeepers will be addressed to the United Nations and the European Union. His office gave no specific details on the mission's composition or any timetable for it but Russia is strongly against the idea.

Fighting has waned substantially in eastern Ukraine in recent days as a cease-fire deal forged last month increasingly takes effect, but both sides have complained of sporadic violations.

The U.N. human rights office on Monday raised its toll of the fighting, saying more than 6,000 people have died since the conflict began in April.