Ukraine president Poroshenko
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko at his annual press conference where he vowed that 2016 would be the year the east of his country and Crimea would be returned to KievReuters

Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko has vowed to win back control of Crimea as well as the rebel-held land in the east of the country but says he needs help from the EU and the US.

He made the bold claim in his annual press conference, saying that a road map is needed with the contribution of Brussels and Washington to ensure the terms of the Minsk peace accord brokered with Russia and Germany are met.

"Ukraine's sovereignty must be restored over the occupied territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in 2016" he said, adding that: "The fight for Crimea's return remains a priority.

"It is my profound conviction that the best format for starting this process is the Geneva-plus format that includes our EU and US partners and possibly the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum."

That agreement assured Ukraine of western and Russian protection from foreign invasion in return for scrapping its nuclear arsenal and meeting the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty.

More than 9,000 people have died in the brutal conflict in the east but Ukraine and the pro-Russian insurgents its army has been fighting accuse each other of scuppering the peace process.

Speaking Wednesday (13 January) in Donetsk, rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko called the Minsk pact "a fiasco."

"Ukraine tried to twist everything and get access to the border without amendments to the constitution and without providing Donbas with special status," he said, in comments reported by Bloomberg.

Ukraine's standoff with Russia has gone hand-in-hand with a dispute over an overdue $3bn (£2bn) loan Moscow gave to ex-president Victor Yanukovich but which Kiev refuses to pay in full, saying it was a bribe to get Ukraine to reject closer ties with the EU. Russia will launch legal proceedings against Ukraine in a London court over the debt by the end of January.

Ukraine, as well as the US, the EU and NATO, say Russia is fueling the conflict by supplying the rebels with weapons and manpower. President Vladimir Putin has said there are some Russian military staff in the region.

Implementation talks Wednesday (13 January) in Minsk saw an agreement made to release more than 50 prisoners. Other issues still to be addressed include local elections in rebel-held areas and achieving a complete cease-fire.

The accord calls for the eventual return of Ukraine's eastern border to the control of the government in Kiev.