News / Europe

    Ukrainian, Russian FMs Agree to Discuss Resuming Cease-fire

    Pro-Russian fighters stand in their positions as they patrol the airspace near Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, July 2, 2014.
    Pro-Russian fighters stand in their positions as they patrol the airspace near Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, July 2, 2014.
    VOA News

    The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany have agreed that talks aimed at resuming a cease-fire between Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatist forces should begin no later than Saturday.

    The four top diplomats said in a statement after meeting in Berlin on Wednesday that the goal of the talks among representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the separatists would be "reaching an unconditional and mutually agreed sustainable cease-fire" to be monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

    No venue or other details of the talks had been announced by early Thursday.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared a unilateral cease-fire on June 20, extended it once, but ended it on Monday after nearly 30 soldiers were reportedly killed and dozens wounded during the truce.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking after the Berlin meeting, condemned the Ukraine leader's decision to end the unilateral cease-fire.  He said that decision cost lives in eastern Ukraine and the "serious destruction of civilian infrastructure."

    But he also vowed that Moscow would use its influence with separatist leaders to bring about a bilateral truce.

    While some separatist leaders said they would observe a truce to run parallel with Kyiv's earlier cease-fire, the Ukrainian government accused the rebels of violating it more than 100 times.  Poroshenko refused to extend the cease-fire a second time and resumed military operations in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday.

    A spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, Andriy Lysenko, said Wednesday that at least five Ukrainian servicemen had been  killed and 21 wounded over the previous 24 hours, while "hundreds" of rebel fighters died in the intensified fighting.

    Lysenko said government forces had retaken three settlements from rebel forces and hit 120 separatist targets, while the separatists carried out 19 attacks on military convoys, checkpoints and positions.

    Lysenko also claimed that Russia was blocking separatist fighters from fleeing into Russia.

    Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksiy Dymtrashkivsky was quoted as saying that separatists in the Donetsk region hit a Ukrainian Su-24 fighter jet with a shoulder-launched missile, but that the aircraft managed to land with only one working engine.

    Russia's Itar-Tass state news agency quoted a separatist source as saying government forces massively shelled the city of Kramatorsk starting Tuesday evening and into Wednesday.

    Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin Wednesday that she could not rule out further sanctions against Russia. The United States and its European allies accuse Russia of arming the separatists in eastern Ukraine.

    Merkel said it was "regrettable" that Kyiv's 10-day cease-fire had not ended the violence.

    On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin directly blamed Poroshenko for the renewed fighting. He also said Russia would continue to "vigorously" defend the rights of Russians abroad, using "all available means" including “international humanitarian law" and "the right of self-defense.”

    Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

    • A military vehicle bearing a Ukrainian flag at a checkpoint near Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine, July 3, 2014.
    • A woman holds a sign a protest against the crisis in eastern Ukraine orgainsed by the Russian communist party in Moscow ,July 3, 2014.
    • Volunteers from the Donbass battalion and Maidan self-defense group stand guard with official security guards outside the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv, July 3, 2014.
    • Relatives grieve after traffic police officers were attacked by unknown assailants in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, July 3, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian fighters stand patrol near Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, July 2, 2014.
    • Workers remove concrete slabs from a school damaged through attacks, in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, July 2, 2014.
    • People carry their belongings as they walk to cross the border into Russia at the Ukrainian-Russian border checkpoint in Severniy, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, July 2, 2014.
    • Municipal workers remove tires as they dismantle barricades set up during the protests that toppled Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych in central Kyiv, July 1, 2014.
    • A man and his daughter walk to a pumping station to get water in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk, July 1, 2014.
    • An armed pro-Russian separatist stands guard at a check point in the Ukrainian eastern city of Slovyansk, July 1, 2014.
    • A woman and children walk past a damaged street market in the Ukrainian eastern city of Slovyansk, July 1, 2014.
    • People collect water at a pumping station in the Ukrainian eastern city of Slovyansk, July 1, 2014.
    • Valery, who gave only his first name, carries his injured cat in front of his damaged house after shelling, in the city of Slovyansk, June 30, 2014.
    • A man looks out of a window of his apartment, which was damaged by shelling, in Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine, June 30, 2014.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 04, 2014 4:08 AM
    This only benefits the innocent people caught in the crossfire on both sides. Plus, Russia has been exposed for esccalting this crisis by pretending to be an innocent player of this crisis that Russia has blamed on the West. Yeah, it was the West that gave the rebels all those Russian weapons to kill Ukrainians in there own country. Man, when will I stop repeating that RUSSIA gave RUSSIAN weapons to rebels to kill UKRAINIANS in UKRAINE!!!!! I don't think anyone believes me, especially the pro-Russian sympathizers. I'm shocked!

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