News / Europe

More Ukrainian Soldiers Killed; France, Germany Press Putin

  • Ukrainian troops are pictured near Slovyansk, July 11, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian rocket launcher is seen near the eastern Ukrainian city of Seversk, July 11, 2014.
  • Ukrainian paratroopers sit on top an APC in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, July 10, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian separatist fighters from the so-called Battalion Vostok (East) sit in a truck as they leave a base in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, July 10, 2014.
  • A woman walks past a building damaged by shelling in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, July 10, 2014.
  • Buildings damaged by a recent shelling are seen in the eastern Ukrainian village of Semenovka, July 9, 2014.
  • People wait for humanitarian medical aid near the mayor's office in Soavyansk, Ukraine, July 9, 2014.
  • Local citizens collect potatoes distributed by the Ukrainian army in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, July 9, 2014.
  • An armed man stands guard as people wait for humanitarian medical aid near the mayor's office in Slovyansk, Ukraine, July 9, 2014.
Images from Ukraine
VOA NewsReuters

Ukrainian forces regained more ground but sustained further casualties on Thursday in clashes with separatists, while two Western allies urged Russia's Vladimir Putin to exert more pressure on the rebels to find a negotiated end to the conflict.

Government forces have recently gained the upper hand in the three-month conflict against separatists in the Russian-speaking eastern regions in which more than 200 government troops have been killed as well as hundreds of civilians and rebel fighters.

The Ukrainian military says it has a plan to deliver a “nasty surprise” to the heavily-armed separatists who have dug in in Donetsk, a city of 900,000 people, after being pushed out of their bastion in Slovyansk over the weekend.

In a further success, military spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov said government forces on Thursday re-took the town of Siversk, east of Slovyansk, when separatists fled.

A separatist confirmed the government's version saying it was “more or less correct.” “There was no sense in holding [Siversk] and reinforcing it because there was a big risk of being encircled.”

But casualties mounted on the Ukrainian side with the deaths of three more Ukrainian soldiers in two attacks on Wednesday night in different parts of the east, the military said.

One was killed in an ambush of a military convoy near Luhansk, while two others died when an armored personnel carrier was blown up by a landmine in the village of Chervona Zorya near Donetsk.

Government forces guarding Donetsk's main international airport, scene of bitter fighting in late May, came under mortar fire on Thursday but the rebel attack was repelled, Seleznyov said.

Reports of torture

Amnesty International says it has "graphic and compelling evidence" of beatings and torture in eastern Ukraine, and it says armed pro-Russian separatists are responsible for the bulk of the violence.

In a report late Thursday, the rights group says victims are "often subjected to stomach turning beatings and torture."  It also says there is evidence of a smaller number of abuses by pro-Kyiv forces.

The report says the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission for Ukraine has recorded 222 abductions since April, when separatists seeking autonomy in the east launched their rebellion against the Kyiv government.

Amnesty says abductions have taken place across eastern Ukraine targeting police and local officials.  It also cites violence against journalists, politicians, activists, business people and members of electoral commissions.

The report also cites recent Ukrainian military gains in the east, and says captives held by separatists are now being freed by Ukrainian forces almost daily.  It says the number of "disturbing" cases is increasing as pro-Kyiv forces gain more ground and free more captives.  It also says those cases are being "meticulously" documented and that perpetrators will be brought to justice.

Putting onus on Putin

In further international diplomacy to end the worst Russia-West crisis since the Cold War, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Putin by telephone to “exert all necessary pressure on the separatists to bring them to negotiate effectively,” an Elysee Palace statement said.

They also asked him to use his influence to take concrete steps to ensure control of the border where, the Kyiv government says, Russian authorities have been turning a blind eye to fighters crossing with weapons and equipment to help the rebels.

Moscow protested to Kyiv on Thursday after it said Ukrainian military fired on a Russian border checkpoint. The Foreign Ministry said it was not the first time the border post at Gukovo had come under fire.

Moscow is under sanctions by the United States and the European Union over the Ukraine crisis but denies it is supporting the rebels in the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine.

Russia on Thursday condemned a European Union plan to extend the list of persons, including Russians, targeted with asset freezes and travel bans as an unfriendly move that would hinder ties with the 28-nation bloc.

The EU has agreed to add 11 new names to the list likely to take effect on Saturday, an EU diplomat said on Wednesday.

The rebellions began in April after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula following the overthrow of a Moscow-backed president by mass street protests in Kyiv.

Ukraine's border guard service reported that six Russian helicopters had flown some distance over the border into Ukraine on Wednesday and then returned home in what it described as “direct provocations in support of the terrorists.”

In its version of the three-way telephone call, the Kremlin said the three leaders had agreed on the need for a “swift renewal” of the ceasefire and another round of peace talks involving the “contact group” and separatist leaders.

New fighters

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko refused to prolong a 10-day unilateral ceasefire when it expired on June 30 and ordered a resumption of the military offensive against the rebels resulting in Slovyansk being re-taken over the weekend.

His security chiefs say the rebels repeatedly breached the government's unilateral ceasefire, resulting in many Ukrainian military deaths, and have ruled out any more such truces until the rebels lay down their arms.

Rebels in Donetsk, commanded by a Russian military adventurer called Igor Girkin or Strelkov, say they are recruiting new fighters to resist government forces.

Buoyed by the success in Slovyansk, Ukrainian security officials say they have a plan ready to crush the rebels in Donetsk though Poroshenko has ruled out air strikes and artillery bombardment because of the large civilian population.

The separatists are occupying administrative buildings in both Donetsk and Luhansk and are dug in on the outskirts of Donetsk.

Thousands of people have fled Donetsk, a major industrial hub and Euro-2012 football site, since the onset of the conflict and many businesses are closing down.

With armed men out on the streets, tension is growing in the city. Several social groups came together on Thursday to call on townspeople to join in a daily prayer session at noon every day from next Monday.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
July 10, 2014 11:26 AM
RUMOR HAS IT? ... that Putin was sending an engineering team to the US, (to study how the US sealed their border with Mexico), to keep illegal immigrants, and criminals out of the US, and would build the same kind of fence the US has, on the Ukraine border? .... Obama is going to show the Russians, how the US does it, (step by step), the Obama way?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs