News / Europe

Report: 30-35 Separatists Dead in Fighting in East Ukraine

Ukrainian presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko talks, during a press conference,  in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, May 26, 2014
Ukrainian presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko talks, during a press conference, in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, May 26, 2014
VOA News
A pro-Russian rebel said on Tuesday he believed about 30 to 35 separatists had been killed so far in nearly 24 hours of fighting with Ukrainian forces in Ukraine's eastern city of Donetsk.
The rebel, who was in his 30s and gave no name, spoke to Reuters as he and about a dozen fellow fighters drove off from a morgue near the center of Donetsk, where the separatists have been battling Ukrainian forces after seizing the city's international airport on Monday.
It was the first indication of a death toll on either side in the latest bout of violence, which erupted a day after Ukrainians voted for a new president in an election which the separatists managed to block in much of the Donetsk region.

Earlier, Ukraine's likely president-elect Petro Poroshenko says there will be no talks with "terrorists" - his word for the armed pro-Russian separatists in the east.

Unofficial results show billionaire candy maker Poroshenko winning Ukraine's presidential election by a landslide

Poroshenko said Monday that peace can be reached thorough a dialogue with those he calls people, and that only weapons can be used when dealing with what he calls killers.

He also said he wants to open talks with Moscow, which pleases Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who says the chance for a dialogue with Ukraine cannot be wasted.

Related video report by VOA's Patrick Wells:
Ukraine - Donetsk Airporti
Patrick Wells
May 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Battle erupted at the main airport in the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine Monday, after a rebel attack was met with government airstrikes and assault by paratroops. Patrick Wells was at the scene.
A Ukrainian rebel leader in Donetsk said he also is ready to talk with Poroshenko, but only if the talks concern a prisoner swap and pulling Ukrainian forces out of the east.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the large voter turnout shows the Ukrainian people want to live in a democracy anchored in Europe.
  • Ukrainian businessman, politician and presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko speaks during a news conference in Kyiv, May 26, 2014.
  • Ukrainians read newspapers at a metro station in Kyiv, May 26, 2014.
  • Smoke billows from Donetsk international airport during heavy fighting between Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces, May 26, 2014.
  • A pro-Russian armed militant sits behind a camouflage net at a checkpoint blocking the major highway which links the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, and Kharkiv, outside Slovyansk, May 26, 2014.
  • Ukraine presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko speaks to press in Kyiv, May 25, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian soldier waits outside voting booths during voting in the village of Desna in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine, May 25, 2014.
  • Ukrainians stand in line to receive their ballots at a polling station during elections in Kyiv, May 25, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian militants smash ballot boxes in front of the seized regional administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 25, 2014.
  • An election official sits in front of a wall covered with information of candidates during Ukraine's presidential elections at a polling station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Krasnoermeisk (Red Army), northwest of Donetsk, May 25, 2014.

In the capital Kyiv, Poroshenko, said Monday he hoped to meet Russia's leaders in the first half of June and that restoring stability in eastern regions of his country would require Moscow's involvement.
Poroshenko also said he would use all legal means to secure the return to Ukraine of the Crimea region, annexed by Russia in March.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that Russia respects the choice of the Ukrainian people and is ready for dialogue with Poroshenko.

He added, however, that he doubted that any "mediators" would be needed for talks with Ukraine's new leadership.
A leader of the rebel Donetsk People's Republic, Denis Pushilin, said Monday that the separatists are ready for a "dialogue" with Poroshenko, but only concerning exchanging prisoners and withdrawing government troops from eastern Ukraine, and only if Russia mediates the talks.

Election results

Ukraine's election commission reported Poroshenko had earned about 54 percent of the vote in Sunday's election with ballots counted from more than half of the country's precincts.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was in second place with 13 percent.
Poroshenko, a billionaire candy maker and former foreign minister, claimed victory Sunday without needing a runoff vote, and said he was ready to negotiate with Russian officials.

"I really hope that the current election which was really free, really fair, the level of the activity of Ukrainian people and Ukrainian voters clearly demonstrate that Ukraine are decisive in building up their future," Poroshenko said. "And I think that Russia is our neighbor, and without Russia it would be much less effective or almost impossible to speak about the security in the whole region or maybe about the global security."
US, German reaction

U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated the Ukrainian people for making their voices heard over the violence and provocations. He said Ukrainians have repeatedly shown their desire to choose their own leaders and live in a democracy.

Secretary of State John Kerry said that the large turnout in Sunday's vote indicates that the Ukrainian people want to live in a democratic country anchored in what he called "European institutions."

In a statement Monday, Kerry praised the "courage" and "determination" of voters in parts of eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists prevented most voting from taking place.

Kerry said the United States respects Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and he condemned Russia's "occupation and attempted annexation" of Crimea. He said the United States is committed to working with Ukraine and other partners to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Sunday's election was the climax of sometimes violent anti-government protests that started last year and drove pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych from power. It also led to a Russian takeover of  Crimea - a mostly Russian-speaking Ukrainian peninsula.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday welcomed the preliminary results in Ukraine's election showing Poroshenko could win enough support to avert a run-off election, though she said that could only be confirmed when full results are in.
“We can only comment on the result when we have the final result of the election,'' Merkel said. “But if there is a decision for Mr. Poroshenko in the first round, that would certainly be good news.”
Merkel said she hoped that first step would lead to a constitutional process in Ukraine and parliamentary elections. She vowed Germany would help accompany that, if desired, and hoped the European Union can help resolve a gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine this week.
“The talks about gas prices [for Ukraine] are very important for us,” said Merkel. “I hope it will be possible to get an agreement this week. It's very, very important.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to recognize the outcome of the election, despite expressing misgivings about its legitimacy. He also said he hopes Ukraine's new president will end military operations against separatists in the east.
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Some information in this report was contributed by Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
by: Not Again from: Canada
May 27, 2014 8:52 AM
This situation in SE Ukraine continues to escalate and deteriorate; the US through the UNSC should call for the establishment of a peacekeeping force, to bring about a ceasefire and the restoration of security to the region. The peacekeeping force should be deployed from the border regions, and into the cities in which the conflict rages. Essentially the more bloodshed, the more difficult, if not impossible, it will be to prevent the conflict from spreading. Prompt action is required by the UNSC to bring a halt to this very destabilizing situation. UNSC action/inaction will also show the true intentions of Czar Putin....

by: cricket from: China
May 27, 2014 3:42 AM
the dispute between Ukraine government and pro-Russian separatists has arosen the world 's concern , I hope it will end in a short time .

by: Eduardo Linares Batres from: Guatemala City
May 27, 2014 3:27 AM
Ukraine’s newly elected president is morally right in not “negotiating” subversive criminals that are nothing but Putin’s stooges. Have them put down their weapons and surrender; then let them suffer the consequences for the illegal acts they’ve committed. After they complete their penal sentences, some dialog should be possible, if first they publicly apologize to the Ukrainian people for their aggressions.

by: HONG HA from: Vietnam
May 27, 2014 12:40 AM
It is too soon to say anything about the future government of Ukraine. Is it a fair government? Will it get corrupted like the previous ones? Will those who are responsible for mass killings in Odessa and other places be punished? Will those who are using tanks and helicopters to kill civilians be put on trial? It is still a big question.

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
May 26, 2014 5:18 PM
It will be a big shame if the west takes the slightest word from Russia's Putin ,he would never let Ukraine run peacefully till he grabs more territory from a sovereign nation which US and UK clearly signed to help uphold for given up its arsenal of nuclear weapons,what a shame on the so call United Nations that remains an Ununited Nation.

by: Anonymous
May 26, 2014 12:39 PM
They should disable any airports in the east, as a defensive move.
Those who want to be a part of Ukraine, should put down their weapons and promote peaceful negotiations. Those who do not want this should pack up their gear and guns and go back to Russia.

Peace deals aren't signed with guns, they are signed with a pen , and done respectfully. Those who carry guns into areas like the the airport or government buildings, definitely are enemies of Ukraine. They could optionally choose to do things democratically however they chose to use violence, this is considered terrorism. If Russian speaking people in Ukraine want more rights they just have to ask the new government for them. Using weapons will not earn them more respect or more rights whatsoever.

Did Martin Luther King use a gun to do what he did? Absolutely Not.

Dealing with things in a civilized manner is the best approach, however if those with weapons want to deal with the problem with weapons, they should be dealt a blow.
In Response

by: gargi from: uk
May 27, 2014 6:23 AM
You are funny. When violence was used to remove the previous president, it was OK. It was praised by the west. Now it's not OK, not the violent people are suddenly terrorists. Why the difference?

by: meanbill from: USA
May 26, 2014 12:30 PM
The neo-Nazi, Right Sector, and ultra-right wing Kiev coup leaders aren't leaving with a whimper -- and they still control the Ukraine government until the newly elected Ukraine government is formed -- and they are letting the (2) newly elected independent states, they don't accept their independence? -
Autonomy, independent states with treaties, (borders?), or returning back to Ukraine -- these are the problems that need negotiations on, (or will they decide to go to war), and then "for humanitarian reasons" bring in Russia? -- (IF ONLY outsiders hadn't interfered in the Ukraine internal politics?)

by: meanbill from: USA
May 26, 2014 9:24 AM
AFTER all the US, EU and NATO countries propaganda on what Putin would or wouldn't do -- (Putin and Russia did exactly what he said they'd do) -- they'll accept and honor the results of the Ukraine democratic elections as legitimate, and the will of all Ukrainians -- (BUT?) -- not including the (2) independent states, that are no longer part of Ukraine?
QUESTIONS were raised concerning the (2) declared independent states on their legality, and what they'd do, or not do, to disrupt the elections? -- (THE UNDENIABLE FACT IS?) -- Legal or not illegal, the (2) independent states are independent states, and the new Ukraine government (must) negotiate with them and the Russians, if they'll be autonomous regions, independent states, or return to Ukraine with conditions? -- (borders, treaties, and autonomy, must be negotiated)...
FACT .. The US, EU, and NATO countries backed the illegal Kiev government that seized Ukraine, and the illegal actions they took -- (BUT?) -- (the Russia considered them terrorists, and wouldn't accept or negotiate with them) -- (BUT NOW?) -- Russia and the (2) newly declared independent states will negotiate with the new Ukraine government. ...... REALLY

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