News / Europe

Ukraine, Russia Leaders to Attend D-Day Ceremonies

Ukrainian businessman, politician and president-elect Petro Poroshenko gestures to supporters in Kyiv May 25, 2014.
Ukrainian businessman, politician and president-elect Petro Poroshenko gestures to supporters in Kyiv May 25, 2014.
VOA News
Ukraine's president-elect Petro Poroshenko will attend the 70th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landings in Normandy, his office said on Wednesday.

Also present at the observance will be Russian President Vladimir Putin, but there are no indications yet that there will be a direct meeting between the two – the first such opportunity since Poroshenko’s overwhelming election win last Sunday. 

Relations between Ukraine and Russia deteriorated following the ouster of Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanokovych in February following months of protests, and Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in March.

Condemning the takeover of the peninsula as an illegal land-grab, Kyiv also accuses Moscow of fomenting separatist unrest in eastern Ukraine, which to date has claimed dozens of lives and raised internal tentions.
 
Should the two men come face-to-face it would be the first time Russia's president would meet an official of Ukraine’s new pro-Western government.

Putin and Poroshenko are among several leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski - all key players in the Ukraine crisis - who are due to meet for lunch on June 6 to mark D-day.

Uneasy calm in Ukraine's east

Some calm returned to Ukraine’s east on Wednesday, a day after government troops, in one of their biggest shows of force to date, killed as many as 50 pro-Russia separatists in the country’s restive Donetsk region.

The operation, which was centered on retaking control of Donetsk International Airport seized by rebels earlier, came after Ukrainians, in a poll on Sunday, overwhelming elected pro-Western chocolatier and former foreign minister Petro Poroshenko as their new president.
 
  • A supporter of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic sits behind a newly erected barricade on the airport road in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, May 28, 2014.
  • Coalminers in the Donbass coalfields have gone on an open-ended strike to demand Ukrainian troops and other forces leave the Donetsk Region, May 28, 2014.
  • Interior Ministry security force members and investigators work inside a burned out regional office of the All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda" (Freedom) Party, led by Oleh Tyahnybok, in Odessa, May 28, 2014.
  • Local people look at a burned out  car following a shelling from Ukrainian government forces, in Slovyansk, May 28, 2014.
  • The body of a pro-Russian gunman killed in clashes with Ukrainian government forces around the airport lies on a stretcher at a city morgue in Donetsk, May 27, 2014.
  • A wrecked Kamaz truck is seen near the Donetsk airport, Ukraine, May 27, 2014.
  • Firefighters work at an ice hockey arena in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 27, 2014.
  • People stand near belongings of separatists killed in a fight with pro-Ukrainian forces outside a morgue in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 27, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian militia men arrive to take positions outside an airport in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 26, 2014.
  • A woman reacts after seeing the lifeless body of a man killed by shrapnel following a shelling from Ukrainian government forces in Slovyansk, Ukraine, May 26, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian helicopter Mi-24 gunship fires its cannons against rebels at the main terminal building at the airport in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 26, 2014.
  • A military truck with armed pro-Russian militants drives through a police checkpoint toward the airport at Donetsk, Ukraine, May 26, 2014.

The assault, following weeks of restraint, filled morgues in the region’s eponymous capital with bodies of rebel gunmen, some with limbs missing.

Pro-Moscow gunmen have declared the city of a million people capital of an independent "Donetsk People's Republic" they proclaimed following a referendum condemned by both Kyiv and the West.
 
Some battles between separatists and Ukrainian government forces Wednesday in the region of Luhansk.

Ukraine's Interior Ministry reported that the fighting broke out when separatist fighters tried to overrun a Ukrainian National Guard unit in the city of Luhansk. The ministry said there were losses on both sides but provided no casualty figures.

Obama blasts Russia, praises allies

President Obama on Wednesday again condemned Russia for its “aggression” against Ukraine and praised Western allies for their unified response to the crisis.
President Barack Obama arrives to deliver the commencement address to graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, May 28, 2014.President Barack Obama arrives to deliver the commencement address to graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, May 28, 2014.
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President Barack Obama arrives to deliver the commencement address to graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, May 28, 2014.
President Barack Obama arrives to deliver the commencement address to graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, May 28, 2014.


In a speech on global challenges and America’s role in the world, Obama said that Moscow’s posturing brought back memories of “the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe.”

He praised Western allies and organizations for uniting behind Ukraine in the face of Russia’s actions.

“This mobilization of world opinion and institutions served as a counterweight to Russian propaganda, Russian troops on the border, and armed militias,” said Obama speaking at a commencement ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

“Standing with our allies on behalf of international order has given a chance for the Ukrainian people to choose their future,” added Obama in remarks before hundreds of cadets.

‘Fratricidal war’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday accused the West of pushing Ukraine into a “fratricidal war” and repeated Moscow's calls for an end to Kyiv’s “punitive operations” in the country’s east.
 
Lavrov’s remarks echoed earlier Russian statements placing blame on the United States and the EU for the turmoil in Ukraine.

“The people [of Ukraine] are in essence being pushed into the abyss of fratricidal war,” Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying at a ministry reception attended by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called on Russia's Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to block the border to Ukraine to prevent separatist fighters from entering the country.

He said that if Russian influence was eliminated, the crisis could be ended swiftly.

Yatsenyuk accused Moscow of supporting, financing and providing rebels access to Ukrainian territory.

Miners rally

Also Wednesday, several hundred coal miners from the Donetsk region rallied in support of pro-Russia militants.

The miners marched through Donetsk city center to demand the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from the region.

The protesters carried "Donetsk People's Republic" flags and banners reading “We will revive the power of the Donbass," a reference to Ukraine's industrial heartland.

According to Ukrainian media reports, the workers belong to a miners union closely associated with ousted president Yanukovych's Party of Regions.

Other unions seemed to have distanced themselves from the rally.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.
 

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Comments
     
by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
May 28, 2014 12:43 PM
The tranquility does not mean a thing. The criminal government in Kyev "… can win wars on the back of a horse, but … can't rule the people from the back of a horse" .. Genghis Khan The civil war in Eastern Ukraine is lurking and it is now taking a respite. The thugs in the Kyev government by their bloodshed haven’t resolved a problem in the region.

In Response

by: Bomo Albert Oguara from: Port Harcourt
May 28, 2014 10:54 PM
You are just an echo sounder,bouncing off Your leader's propanganda.Ukrainaians must be left alone to decide their own future that should involve all sides.Putin is simply meddlesome.The old soviet era is gone and gone for ever.This grandiose scheme of his will surely fail because it is built on the use of force and not logical persuasion.


by: meanbill from: USA
May 28, 2014 12:38 PM
REMEMBER what Ho Chi Minh told America? -- "We can fight a war for (40) years or more, or we can sit down and drink tea together" -- and these are words of wisdom to the new Ukraine government, and the pro-Russian separatists. -- (NEGOTIATE).

In Response

by: bomo albert ogara from: port harcourt
May 28, 2014 11:00 PM
Well said,after the guns have gone silent,then comes the most difficult part-negotiation,which should ordinarily have come before the battles if only reason prevailed and the meddlesome interloper from across the border behaved like a true statesman that he ought to be.Sign of the times.

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