News / Europe

Ukraine Mounts New Attacks on Rebels

FILE - In this photo taken June  20, 2014,  in Izyum, near Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visits troops.
FILE - In this photo taken June 20, 2014, in Izyum, near Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visits troops.
VOA News

Ukraine launched new military operations Tuesday against pro-Russian separatists in the east, hours after President Petro Poroshenko announced he would not renew a cease-fire but would go on the offensive to rid Ukraine of "parasites."

Ukrainian forces claimed to have retaken one of the checkpoints along the Russian border held by the rebels. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko called it the first victory in the revived anti-terrorist operation.

The U.S. and its European allies have accused Russia of arming the insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin directly blamed Poroshenko for the renewed fighting, complaining he could not persuade the Ukrainian leader to extend the cease-fire. 

Putin said Russia would use all available tools to vigorously defend the rights of Russians abroad.

The State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Tuesday, saying he is strongly concerned that the Russian-backed rebels refused to take steps to de-escalate the crisis – moves that could have extended the cease-fire.

Within hours of Poroshenko's early-morning announcement, the military went into action against rebel bases and checkpoints in the east, which has been in separatist foment since April.

Saying Ukrainian forces had launched attacks "from the air and land," the defense ministry said: "The terrorists' plan to significantly escalate armed confrontation has been disrupted and the threat of losses to the civilian population and service personnel has been liquidated."

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko makes a televised address in Kyiv, Ukraine, June 30, 2014.Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko makes a televised address in Kyiv, Ukraine, June 30, 2014.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko makes a televised address in Kyiv, Ukraine, June 30, 2014.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko makes a televised address in Kyiv, Ukraine, June 30, 2014.

Gunfire broke out Tuesday afternoon in Donetsk, the capital of one of the two regions that pro-Russian insurgents have declared independent, the Associated Press reported.

Gunmen appeared to be trying to take control of the regional police headquarters. An AP journalist saw some blood on the streets but no wounded people.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

Warning to Kyiv

Russia on Tuesday warned authorities in Kyiv they would be held responsible for the ongoing military operation against separatists in eastern Ukraine after they refused to extend a unilateral cease-fire.

"One will have to answer for the crimes against peaceful civilians," the foreign ministry said in a statement. "We demand that Ukrainian authorities stop shooting at their own country's peaceful cities and villages."

Poroshenko, who accuses Russia of fanning the conflict and allowing fighters and equipment to cross the border to support the rebels, eschewed renewing a 10-day unilateral cease-fire after several days of four-way telephone talks involving Putin and German and French leaders.

Poroshenko said in his early morning statement that Ukraine had not seen "concrete steps for de-escalating the situation, including strengthening controls on the border."

EU chooses to wait

European Union governments decided Tuesday that they were not ready to immediately impose new sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Senior EU diplomats met in Brussels Tuesday morning to consider whether new measures were needed after a summit of EU leaders on Friday warned Moscow that sanctions were in the cards if peace talks didn't produce results.

One EU diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they'd decided to monitor the situation: "The picture on the ground is mixed. In the meantime, there are intensified preparations for sanctions."

Two other diplomats confirmed the assessment.

In Moscow, the foreign ministry hinted that the United States stood behind Poroshenko's decision not to extend the cease-fire.

"There is an impression that the change in Kyiv's position … could not have come about without influence from abroad, despite the position of leading EU member states," it said in a statement.

Pro-Russian separatists stand guard at a checkpoint, where a sigh reads "We love Slovyansk," in the eastern city of Slovyansk, Ukraine, July 1, 2014.Pro-Russian separatists stand guard at a checkpoint, where a sigh reads "We love Slovyansk," in the eastern city of Slovyansk, Ukraine, July 1, 2014.
Pro-Russian separatists stand guard at a checkpoint, where a sigh reads "We love Slovyansk," in the eastern city of Slovyansk, Ukraine, July 1, 2014.
Pro-Russian separatists stand guard at a checkpoint, where a sigh reads "We love Slovyansk," in the eastern city of Slovyansk, Ukraine, July 1, 2014.

Separately, the speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament called for a new cease-fire.

"We think that without a truce, without the start of dialogue, it is simply impossible to restore peace, justice and law and order in Ukraine," Sergei Naryshkin, a Putin ally, was quoted as saying.

Anger in Ukraine

Poroshenko, just over three weeks in office, faces rising anger at home and from the new political establishment over military losses. He is under pressure to switch to more forceful action against the rebels after a cease-fire that many say the rebel groups used to regroup and rearm.

A statement tweeted by the Ukrainian foreign ministry on Monday night said 27 Ukrainian servicemen had been killed and 69 wounded since the cease-fire began on June 20.

Poroshenko said he was willing to return to a cease-fire "at any moment" if it became clear that all sides were ready to carry out all aspects of the peace plan, including the freeing of hostages and creating effective border controls.

Poroshenko had extended a government cease-fire last week until 10 p.m. (1900 GMT) Monday to allow for peace talks with a contact group involving separatist leaders, a former Ukrainian president, a senior representative of the OSCE rights and security body and Moscow's ambassador to Kiev.

Moscow's strategy

Experts, who believe Russia is actively supporting the insurgency, say there is a two-pronged strategy being persued in Ukraine.

Pavel Felgenhauer, a defense analyst and columnist with Novaya Gazeta newspaper in Moscow, says that on the one hand the Kremlin arms and otherwise supports separatists in order to maintain leverage with the pro-Western government in Kyiv.

“So Moscow, though wanting a freeze of the present situation ... and not wanting the separatists to be militarily defeated, is supplying arms not in an attempt for kind of help the rebels march on Kyiv, which is hardly possible, but to uphold some kind of military balance on the ground,” says Felgenhauer.

On the other hand, the expert says, separatist fighters try to create a pretext for an incursion.

“They hope that if they provoke more fighting and if the Ukrainian military will begin to grind [rebels] up and there will be high civilian casualties as a result, this will force Moscow’s hand and Moscow would intervene militarily,” says Felgenhauer.

  • 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.

Daniel Schearf contributed to this story from Moscow. Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.

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Comment Sorting
by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
July 02, 2014 4:09 AM
Why has the EU and USA held back on their unified stand to impose sanctions on Russia allowing Ukraine to resume operation on Russia's armed puppets in east knowing quite well that a unified move will send a clear message to Putin and Russia instead of growing weak and letting Ukraine go in alone, the EU needs to stand up in the face of terror on an allied nation instead of having fear of the effects in its economy and Russia's retaliation.

by: vada
July 02, 2014 12:59 AM
Putin wants to break up EU and he succeeded in that. I think that the end of EU will come very soon,because EU is not united,it's rather divided. USA must give an alternative to Russia's gas which flows through Ukraine to EU.

by: gen from: japan
July 01, 2014 11:44 PM
The 10days-cease fire is for Ukrain signing with EU.Then Porochenko actually get a support from EU.
So if Russia intervention happened,Porochenko would seek help from EU,and US.But EU and US would only give another sanction to Russia.
Russia would not care about sanctions.
Russia have onlly attack kiev and occupation Ukrain by arms.
EU and US just give sanction.They never shed their blood for Ukrain.
EU and US ordinary citizens have already got bored at Ukrain.Poor Ukrain.

by: ivan from: rus
July 01, 2014 10:18 PM
Good comment, AlexD, but absolutelly baseless and proofless. Could you at least add some evidences of what you've said ?
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 03, 2014 1:59 AM
You have to reply directly to AlexD's comment, or he will not know you have asked him a question, Ivan. This website will notify him that someone has commented on his own posting.

by: ivan from: rus
July 01, 2014 10:13 PM
They'd launched mil op against self-defence but civils are dying
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 03, 2014 2:10 AM
That's right. Good point. No matter what we say here, innocent people will suffer and die! Whether it's Russian or Ukrainian, innocent people will have to pay the worst price! We should expect better from these so-called world leaders, USA/EU/Russia/Ukraine, whoever. But they react like children and people will die!

by: AlexD
July 01, 2014 12:10 PM
That 10-day truce was used by Russian and pro-Russian separatist forces there in Donetsk only to the following reasons: 1) to hastily form a new country – Novorossia (“New Russia”), 2) to create its own Parliament with Kremlin backed people and 3) to re-inforce its armed forces. All these events are being very seriously reported by the pro-Kremlin media these days. It is a hight time to stop this circus with breakaway countries, provinces, governor’s, mayor’s and president’s nominations.

There was never any New Russia province inside the Ukraine where the Russian language used to be the state language and never will be. Those people and their Kremlin boss are trully lunatics if they do believe it. I think that the Donetsk region is an area where certain interests of the Kremlin oligarchy guiding these events are coincided. It only proves the fact that madness has captured the heads of those people.

The more delay is the truce, so it is only on hand to pro-Russian terrorists in Donetsk. The faster the new Ukrainian President will solve the problem of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, the better for his country and so much the worse for Putin and Russia. After (I'm sure) this problem being solved it will arise another question – the returning back of the Crimea to Ukraine.
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 03, 2014 2:07 AM
Here we go with twisted historical facts! ALL you obvious pro-Russian nut cases, UKRAINE was granted sovereignty by RUSSIA!!! RUSSIA agreed to UKRAINE'S independence and sovereignty!!! RUSSIAN weapons and supplies are what's being used to break up Ukraine and is killing UKRAINIANS on the own soil, not Ukrainians being killed on Russian soil. PERIOD!

For all you pro-Russians out there, answer this simple question: if the USA was arming pro-American Mexican rebels to help break up Mexico and become American territories, what would you pro-Russian guys say about that? Remember, the Ukraine belongs to Russia no more than Mexico belongs to the USA. ANSWER THIS SIMPLE QUESTION!!!!!! What would you pro-Russians say about USA weapons, tanks, and supplies being sent into Mexico to kill MEXICANS on the own soil?
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 02, 2014 11:26 AM
Disagree with AlexD, see Gennady's comment for a more accurate representation of facts.
In Response

by: piccolo from: uk
July 01, 2014 5:07 PM
Crimea will never be returned..kiev puppets dancing to the tune of western masters..its the ukraines natural resources they want..
In Response

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
July 01, 2014 1:03 PM
To AlexD
Have you ever been to Ukraine? Do you know controversial history, ethnicity and spoken languages in Ukraine? You know nothing of widely spoken Russian language among millions of Ukranians. You also know nothing about how at odds are millions of Ukranians viewing Bandera, Soviet legacy etc. Do you know that half people in Russia have relatives, brothers, sisters, and extended family members in Ukraine, particularly in Eastern Ukraine? For centuries Ukraine, particularly Eastern, was a part of Russia.

I bet you know neither history, nor geography of Europe, that is common for Jen Psaki in President Obama’s team and other ordinary American.
Nevertheless, you started declaring you sofa-wisdom. It wasn’t Russia’s initiative with breakaway countries, provinces, governor’s, mayor’s and president’s nominations that had started IN KOSOVO.

You are wrong that there was never Russian province inside the Ukraine where the Russian language had been used as the official language. I address your phrase to your incompetence that “Those people and their Kremlin boss are truly lunatics if they do believe it... It only proves the fact that madness has captured the heads of those people. ‘’ I strongly hope that from now on the historic injustice will be restored and ethnic Russians living on Ukrainian soil and millions Ukrainians whose mother language is Russian will get their right to speak their own tongue, the language they choose.
In Response

by: john from: thailand
July 01, 2014 12:51 PM
Completely agree alexD good comment.

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga region
July 01, 2014 11:13 AM
To 1worldnow from: Earth
I wonder if you think when you write your rubbish. Do they pay you for your drivel? Did you know that there was no real peace plan from Poroshenko but his ULTIMATUM? Poroshenko wanted “peace” on his conditions that hadn't been shared/agreed in the East of Ukraine. He bluntly rejected political solution in the East and compromise with the discontented. So, Poroshenko is the only one who is responsible for the latest bloodshed.

Did you see Putin in his throne? Did anybody in the world see him in the throne? So, what about are you pouring you nonsense? Have you read or watched Putin “knocking back some vodka”? Just your dirty insinuations and mockery. Please, behave yourself in the polite society and be not a clown. Don’t pretend that it is unknown to the world who had instigated the Ukranian crisis. The timetable of events crystal clear showed it wasn’t Russia that had started the bloodshed.
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 03, 2014 1:51 AM
I fully agree with these guys, Gennady and Igor! The West (love that retarded term----West!) is responsible. We just hate the West, wish the West never existed. We should eliminate the West from the earth, and have just East, North, and South!!! That will solve everything, and peace will flourish.

UKRAINIANS are being KILLED by RUSSIAN weapons supplied by RUSSIA!!

Especially the USA, making Russia give arms and supplies:

UKRAINIANS are being KILLED by RUSSIAN weapons supplied by RUSSIA!!

I agree, the USA (West, hehe) is completely at fault:

UKRAINIANS are being KILLED by RUSSIAN weapons supplied by RUSSIA!!

Me and my childish mockery. Which is just mockery, homeboys! I guess you idiots assumed that people didn't know:

UKRAINIANS are being KILLED by RUSSIAN weapons supplied by RUSSIA!!

Neither of you, nor anyone from the innocent and peaceful Russia, will address the issue that:

UKRAINIANS are being KILLED by RUSSIAN weapons supplied by RUSSIA!!

Care to comment about that? Hate on me, don't care, hate on the USA (we know you are just jealous), but can you at least put aside your delusional hypocrisy and comment what your own government is doing? Are you scared?
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 02, 2014 1:49 AM
Absolutely, I didn't expect for you to acknowledge what your own government is doing as well! It was clowning on my part, anyone with an education above elementary would know that. You are knocking on America's door, go away! After all, if YOUR government didn't arm the rebels to begin with, then Ukraine wouldn't be forced to comply with YOUR GOVERNMENT'S intervention! YOUR government has made it clear that it's former SOVIET teritories will eventually fall back into Russia's bosom, whether they like it or not. Why haven't you addressed what YOUR GOVERNMENT in doing? Oh, but you will address your frustration about my childish playing with words.

Your history is tainted by your desire for the Soviet Empire to return. Ukraine, like so many other countries that were STOLEN by your nation, were given independency that YOUR NATION agreed to. Why would people wish or desire to move to a place that has tensions against them? Talk about delusion. So based on your defense of your fellow countrymen moving and living in the Ukraine: That's like South Koreans moving to North Korea and expecting to be treated with kindness.

So again, Mr Rebuttal from Volga Region, will you share your thoughts about your own government giving rebels your Russian weapons to kill people NOT IN RUSSIA???? This will be interesting............
In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
July 02, 2014 12:41 AM
You are right, the West, who have been turning others countries (Iraq, Afganistan, Libya and so on) into hell has no right to blame us at all.

by: hiter
July 01, 2014 10:10 AM
I think Ukrainians is beginning to doubt about their course toward the West because we left them alone to face death against Russia. Nobody will turn to our side.

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 01, 2014 8:24 AM
Why would the rebels want a peace plan with the Ukraine? The rebels are getting more than enough RUSSIAN weapons anyway. Putin is kicking back in his throne, knocking back some vodka, and happy that so many people are blaming the US and EU for HIS war! This guy is a genius! I like him.
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 03, 2014 1:54 AM
But it is wit, thanks for the compliment, Anonymous!!! By the way, Anonymous, you still haven't given me your personal information, address, phone number, etc. Remember, you said I was a coward for hiding behind my screen name? Come on, set the example!
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 02, 2014 11:30 AM
Seriously? Your sarcasm is the lowest form of wit!

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