Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα eastern Ukraine. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα eastern Ukraine. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Τετάρτη, Φεβρουαρίου 18, 2015

Germany says peace plan for Ukraine 'damaged' not dead

Germany condemned the seizure of a strategic east Ukrainian town by pro-Russian rebels on Wednesday as a "massive violation" of a ceasefire, but said it was too early to call the broader Minsk peace plan dead or ratchet up sanctions against Moscow.

The withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the encircled town of Debaltseve on Wednesday was a blow to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's efforts to clinch a negotiated solution to the year-long conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

But Berlin appears to be hoping that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who the West accuses of actively supporting the rebels, will respect other aspects of a peace plan agreed last year in the Belarus capital, now that the rebels have achieved their goal of capturing Debaltseve.
Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert pointed to a resolution by the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday as a positive signal. Backed by Russia, the resolution called on all parties in eastern Ukraine to stop fighting and to implement the Minsk peace deal.

"The German government resolutely condemns the military actions by the separatists in Debaltseve. It is a massive violation of the ceasefire that went into effect on Sunday," Seibert said.
"We believe the Minsk process is under strain, it has perhaps been damaged, but we still believe it makes sense to continue working. The UN resolution appears to send a signal in the right direction."

Merkel, speaking later at a gathering of her conservative party in eastern Germany, did not mention the developments in Debaltseve, but said she wanted to work with Russia, not against it, to restore peace in Europe.

Some German politicians, including Juergen Hardt, a defense expert in her Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said the siege of the town was reason to consider tough new sanctions against Moscow.
But Merkel's spokesman was more cautious, saying more punitive measures hinged on developments on the ground in eastern Ukraine.
"If the fighting doesn't stop after the fall of Debaltseve, new sanctions are likely," said Ulrich Speck of the Carnegie Europe think tank.
"I don't think yet that the 'nuclear economic option', cutting off Russia from SWIFT, is going to happen," he added, referring to the international bank transaction system.
Although Merkel's pursuit of dialogue with Putin is popular at home, the rebel advance has left her vulnerable to critics abroad, among them hawks in the U.S. Congress, who have accused her of naively persisting with diplomacy in the face of repeated broken promises by Putin.
In a statement on Tuesday, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham accused Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, who negotiated the ceasefire last week with Putin and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, of "legitimizing the dismemberment of a sovereign nation in Europe".
They have called on President Barack Obama to send defensive arms to the Ukrainian army, a step Merkel opposes and cautioned against during a visit to Washington earlier this month. The rebel siege of Debaltseve could increase pressure on the president to ignore her warnings and send such weapons.
"The open question is what Putin does now," said a senior German official who requested anonymity.
"Is Debaltseve another step in a process that goes even further or does Putin now have an interest in sticking to the other aspects of the Minsk agreement? If Minsk does fall apart then there will have to be consequences." 

Σάββατο, Φεβρουαρίου 07, 2015

Europe, Russia talks on Ukraine agree to work on possible joint document

A tripartite meeting on the Ukraine crisis involving Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ended here early Saturday with a commitment to working on a "possible joint document."

The nearly five-hour talks saw the leaders agree to draft a "possible joint document" that would include ideas proposed by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Saturday.

The meeting was "constructive and substantial" and efforts would be continued to draw up a "possible joint document" on the implementation of the Minsk agreements reached in the Belarussian capital of Minsk in September, Peskov said.

The Minsk agreements were aimed at committing the Kiev government and the pro-independence militants to an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, but failed when the two sides broke the five-month truce in January.

There will be a telephone conversation in the Normandy format on Sunday when preliminary results of Friday's meeting will be reviewed, he said, referring to talks in France in June that involved Putin, Merkel, Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

The French and German leaders have left the Kremlin and whisked straight to the airport without announcing the outcome of their talks.

Officials from the European delegations remained in Moscow to continue the talks ahead of the four-way phone call on Sunday.

  • The European pair's talks with the Kremlin strongman were seen as a big diplomatic push to prevent the 10-month conflict in east Ukraine from spilling out of control as Washington mulls supplying lethal weapons to Kiev.
The visit also reflects the EU's serious concern over a further deterioration of the situation in Ukraine driven by the threatened shift of military support, analysts say.

This visit was Merkel's first to Moscow since the start of the Ukraine crisis while Hollande had made a brief stopover in December.

Prior to the visit to the Kremlin, Hollande and Merkel first visited Kiev on Thursday to discuss with Poroshenko ways to peacefully settle the crisis in the eastern European country.

The trip also exposed a potential, maybe long-lasting rift between the United States and its European allies over Ukraine.

Both of the European leaders brokered a first ice-breaking meeting in June 2014 with Putin and Poroshenko.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in Kiev on Thursday to talk with Poroshenko about US military support, did not travel to Moscow with the European leaders.

"Are we sure that we would be improving the situation for the people in Ukraine by delivering weapons?" German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen asked at a security conference on Friday in Munich.

The violence in Ukraine has killed over 5,300 people since April 2014, with almost 200 killed within in the last two weeks as fighting intensified sharply.

  Source:Xinhua - globaltimes.cn


Παρασκευή, Ιανουαρίου 23, 2015

Russia ‘Holds Keys’ to End Ukraine Crisis, US State Department Says

Russia is responsible for resolving the conflict in Ukraine and ending the violence in the region, US Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki said during a press briefing on Friday...

“Russia holds the keys to peacefully resolving a conflict [in Ukraine]. It started and bears responsibility to end the violence which has devastated the lives of so many innocents in Donesk and Luhansk,” Psaki said.

Psaki added that the United States “remain deeply concerned by the increasing violence and bloodshed in Eastern Ukraine,” which she said had resulted from “a surge in Russia-backed separatist attacks against the ceasefire line.”
  • “Separatists leaders have publically stated their intention today to take more territory,” Psaki said during the press briefing.
Russia has repeatedly denied accusations of its involvement in the Ukrainian crisis and continues to urge parties involved to establish direct dialogue.....

Δευτέρα, Νοεμβρίου 03, 2014

West slams leadership votes in east Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has not officially responded to the vote yet.

Pro-Russian separatists in the breakaway Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk went to the polls to choose leaders for their self-proclaimed republics, bringing the rebellion in the country's industrialized east to a climax in a move likely to exacerbate tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis.

Alexander Zakharchenko, 38, a mining electrician-turned-rebel leader, on Monday won the election for leadership of the "Donetsk People's Republic (DPR)," the separatists' political and military stronghold in eastern Ukraine.

The Mir Luganshchine (Peace to Luhansk Region) movement, headed by Igor Plotnitsky, a former Soviet army officer, won the election in the "Luhansk People's Republic (LPR)," reported Russia's TASS news agency.

Ukraine's pro-Western president, Petro Poroshenko, denounced the vote on Sunday night as a "farce [conducted] under the barrels of tanks and machine guns." He said it violated a internationally brokered truce deal reached in the Belarussian capital, Minsk, which had also been signed by Russia on September 5.

Europe on Monday warned Russia to respect Ukraine's unity. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the elections went "against the letter and spirit" of the Minsk agreement.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert also said Monday that current developments in eastern Ukraine ruled out any premature lifting of EU economic sanctions against Russia and if the situation worsened, further sanctions may be necessary.

Earlier, EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini issued a statement slamming the polls as "a new obstacle on the path toward peace in Ukraine."

The angry European response raised the temperature in the West's dispute with Russia, which has repeatedly denied supporting separatists in east Ukraine.

The US has also advised Russia not to use the election results as an excuse for bringing troops into Ukraine, Mark Stroh, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, told TASS on Monday. "The United States will not recognize any results announced from this so-called 'election,'" Stroh added.

Despite tough statements from the West and the risk of additional sanctions, Russia backed the separatist elections after the voting results were released.

  • "We respect the will expression of the residents of [Ukraine's] southeast. The elected representatives have got the mandate for their practical efforts aimed at the restoration of normal life in the regions," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement Monday.
  • "We are ready to constructively promote the Ukrainian crisis settlement together with our international partners," said the statement.

Separatist leaders described the polls as a step toward formalizing their de facto independence from Ukraine after seven months of fighting in which the United Nations says more than 4,000 people have died.

  • However, Kiev will likely to continue attempts to resolve the rebellion by force following the elections, analysts believe.
  • "The Ukrainian army is still numerically superior. The party of war in Kiev is strong. Kiev will not recognize these elections and this means that shelling and provocations will continue until the resumption of armed actions," Sergey Mikheyev, director general of the Caspian Cooperation Institute in Russia, told TASS.

Moscow on Monday also went on to urge Kiev to cancel military operations in southeast Ukraine, Russian State Secretary and Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told TASS on Monday after the elections.

Karasin said that the elected representatives of the DPR and LPR "have enough powers to develop a stable dialogue with Kiev authorities."

"There is one more condition - the commitment to the Minsk agreements on September 5 and 19," he added, seemingly in response to wide denunciations from the West.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has not officially responded to the vote yet. His first word could come on Tuesday when he is due to appear at a Red Square ceremony in Moscow marking National Unity day.

Πέμπτη, Οκτωβρίου 30, 2014

Russian FM statement on the implementation of the Minsk agreements on a settlement in Ukraine and elections in its southeastern regions

From the Official Website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (Statements and speeches):

Considering the ultimatum issued by Kiev and some Western capitals that elections not be held in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, it would be logical to remind the following.
In accordance with the Minsk agreements reached in September this year by representatives of the President of Ukraine and the self-defence forces of southeastern Ukraine with the mediation of Russia and the OSCE, these elections can be held between 19 October and 3 November of this year.
The argument that the law on a special self-government procedure for these regions, which Petr Poroshenko signed on 16 October, has set 7 December as the election date contradicts the Minsk agreements. This date, 7 December, was added to the law arbitrarily and unilaterally, without consulting the self-defence forces.
Moreover, this law cannot be applied in practise because it does not identify the area it applies to. The issue of identification has been suspended pending an additional decision by the Verkhovna Rada, which cannot be taken because Kiev has withdrawn its signature from the document that set out the disengagement line between the Ukrainian and the self-defence forces. The situation has been further complicated by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s refusal to implement the 16 October law signed by Petr Poroshenko.
Kiev has also violated other provisions of the Minsk agreements. It continues to bomb the regions controlled by the self-defence forces contrary to the ceasefire terms. It has not adopted, contrary to its pledge, acts on amnesty and security guarantees for the representatives of the self-defence forces that attended the Minsk talks. It has not honoured the provisions on the decentralisation of authority and continuation of a nationwide dialogue. The Kiev government is not fulfilling its commitment to improve the humanitarian situation in Donbass and is creating artificial obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid from Russia.
The Minsk agreements also stipulate the adoption of an economic revival programme for Donbass. But politicians in Kiev said after the parliamentary election [on 26 October] that this assistance would be provided only to those regions in southeastern Ukraine that accept Kiev’s authority, which directly contradicts the letter and spirit of the Minsk Protocol.
Overall, it appears that our partners’ arguments against the 2 November elections are designed to delay them as long as possible, probably in the hope that the problems in the region would grow with the coming winter and hence influence voter mood and the turnout.
In this situation, the self-defence forces’ intention to hold the elections on 2 November is completely legitimate and fully in keeping with the temporal parameters coordinated in Minsk. Adequate authorities must be created without delay in southeastern Ukraine, so that they can address the critically important issues of the regions’ vital needs, including law and order.
Efforts to bring about a settlement in southeastern Ukraine are being taken in an extremely difficult and even conflicting situation. The main task now is to do everything necessary to maintain the fragile truce and to begin the region’s economic and humanitarian revival and sustained political dialogue. Attempts to select one of the interconnected provisions of the Minsk agreements – the election date – without good reason or even in the form of an ultimatum, and to use it to judge the sides’ “behaviour” could derail the peace process and make it a hostage to geopolitical ambitions. We cannot rule out that those who advance these ultimatums want to destroy the Minsk agreements, just as they destroyed the agreement of 21 February 2014, and to gain a pretext for resuming the hostilities in southeastern Ukraine.
Russia strongly urges the sides to prevent this and instead to provide general assistance to turn the 2 November elections into another step towards normalisation and comprehensive settlement of the crisis in Ukraine.
We would like to remind everyone that before the meeting in Minsk the leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics publicly put forth their negotiating stands, which stipulated, in part, that free elections held in these regions based on the principles of self-government would create conditions for a cooperative effort to keep Ukraine united economically, culturally and politically.
Russia will encourage the election winners in southeastern Ukraine to act towards this proclaimed goal. We also expect the Kiev authorities and their Western partners, as well as the OSCE, to act faithfully to fulfil the Minsk agreements. The 2 November elections can be used not to recklessly foster tensions without good reason, but to nudge the situation towards a constructive path of dialogue based on mutual respect and the search for compromise on the basis of a balance of the sides’ legitimate interests, as is stipulated in the documents signed within the framework of the Minsk process.

Τετάρτη, Οκτωβρίου 29, 2014

Ukraine: Ban deplores planned holding of November ‘elections’ by rebel groups

UN, 29 October 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today deplored the planned holding by armed rebel groups in eastern Ukraine of their own “elections” on 2 November, calling the potential polls a “breach of the constitution and national law.”

“These ‘elections’ will seriously undermine the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum, which need to be urgently implemented in full,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York.
Reiterating the importance of restoring stability and safeguarding Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Secretary-General through the statement urged all sides to uphold all parts of the Protocol, an agreement signed in the Belarussian capital in September by representatives of the Russian Federation, Ukraine and opposition groups.

Tensions in Ukraine came to a head after months of political unrest led to the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych in February. This was followed by increased political pressures in the country’s autonomous region of Crimea, where Russian military were subsequently deployed and a secession referendum was held in mid-March, in which the majority of the region’s people voted to join Russia.

Πέμπτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 25, 2014

G-7 Foreign Ministers' Joint Statement on Ukraine (U.S. State Department)

Office of the Spokesperson, New York City, September 25, 2014:
The text of the following statement was released by the Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and High Representative of the European Union:

Begin Text:
"We, the Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the High Representative of the European Union, express our continued grave concern on the situation in eastern Ukraine.
We welcome the Minsk agreements of 5 and 19 September as an important step towards a sustainable, mutually agreed cease-fire, a secure Russian-Ukrainian border and the return of peace and stability to eastern Ukraine with the establishment of a “special status” zone, which is to be empowered with a strong local self-government under Ukrainian law. We condemn the ongoing violations of the ceasefire agreement.
The ceasefire agreement offers an important opportunity to find a durable political solution to the conflict, in full respect of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia must immediately meet its own commitments of the Minsk agreement, including by withdrawing all of its forces, weapons and equipment from Ukraine; securing and respecting the international border between the two countries with OSCE monitoring; and ensuring that all hostages are released. Russia must also ensure that all commitments of the Minsk agreement be met and the political process within Ukraine continues. We commend the efforts Ukraine has made to implement its responsibilities under the Minsk agreement, such as passing legislation on amnesty and a “special status” for parts of eastern Ukraine.
We commend the OSCE´s key role through the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) and within the Trilateral Contact Group in helping de-escalate the crisis. The OSCE has been assigned a crucial role as the monitoring mechanism in the implementation of the Minsk agreement, which we fully support. We call on all OSCE states to help provide the organization all support necessary to fulfill these responsibilities, and to support an expansion of the SMM . We urge the Governments of Russia and Ukraine to fully facilitate and support this expansion.
We reiterate our condemnation of Russia’s illegal attempted annexation of Crimea.
We reiterate our condemnation of the downing of the Malaysia Airlines aircraft on 17 July 2014 with the loss of 298 innocent lives and welcome the internationally respected recent publication of the preliminary report on the tragedy. We call for immediate, safe and unrestricted access to the crash site to enable independent experts to swiftly conclude their investigations, also in order to hold accountable those responsible for the event.
On the threshold of the coming winter, Ukraine faces difficult economic and social challenges, partially caused by the conflict forced upon the country. We commit ourselves to help Ukraine to recover from this massive economic setback and to rebuild its economy. To this end we will closely work together and coordinate with other donors and international financial institutions. We welcome the upcoming donors’ and investors’ conferences organized by Ukraine with the support of the European Union. We encourage the Ukrainian leadership to continue with necessary political, economic and rule of law-related reforms. We trust that the early parliamentary elections will be free, fair and fully in line with international standards.
We stand united in the expectation that this crisis will be solved with respect for international law, and Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. In the course of the past weeks, we have put in place additional coordinated sanctions affecting Russia. Sanctions are not an end in themselves; they can only be rolled back when Russia meets its commitments related to the cease fire and the Minsk agreements and respects Ukraine’s sovereignty. In case of adverse action, however, we remain ready to further intensify the costs on Russia for non-compliance.
We welcome the ratification of the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) by the European Parliament and the Verkhovna Rada on 16 September. In accordance with the agreement reached at the trilateral meeting between the EU, Ukraine and Russia on 12 September on the implementation of the DCFTA, the EU intends to postpone the provisional application of the trade-related provisions until 31 December 2015, while maintaining the EU’s autonomous trade measures to the benefit of Ukraine, as agreed upon at the trilateral meeting between the EU, Ukraine and Russia on 12 September. This will help stabilize the Ukrainian economy in this difficult time. We welcome that the trilateral talks between Ukraine, Russia and the EU will continue. It is equally important to continue the discussions between Russia, Ukraine and the EU on resolving outstanding energy issues"

Σάββατο, Σεπτεμβρίου 20, 2014

Parties at Minsk Talks Agree on Memorandum Regulating Ukrainian Ceasefire Implementation (MINSK MEMORANDUM, 20.09.14)

Kiev authorities and pro-independence fighters in southeastern Ukraine have agreed on complete ceasefire, establishment of the buffer zone, withdrawal of heavy weapons away from the contact line on both sides, and deployment of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring mission.

Early Saturday morning parties at the talks in Minsk – Russia, Ukraine, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's republics and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – aligned positions and formulated a memorandum of nine provisions that will regulate the implementation of a ceasefire agreement between Kiev and independence supporters in eastern Ukraine. Leonid Kuchma, former Ukrainian president representing the country at the talks, read out the provisions of the memorandum at the conclusion of the talks.


1. Ceasefire is to be considered bilateral.

2. Military elements and military formations shall be stopped at their contact line as of September 19.

3. Usage of all kinds of weapons and offensive actions are prohibited.

4. Within 24 hours after the approval of this memorandum weapons with a calibre of more than 100 millimeters shall be moved at least 15 kilometers away from the contact line on both sides, including from the residential areas, which would create an opportunity to establish a 30-kilometers buffer zone.

5. Deployment of heavy weapons and heavy equipment in the region confined by the residential areas [Kuchma did not specify which areas are listed in the memorandum] is prohibited.

6. Placing of mine barriers at the border of the buffer zone is prohibited. Mine barriers that were placed earlier within the buffer zone shall be removed.

7. Flights of operational aircrafts and foreign aerial vehicles except for the vehicles of the OSCE over the buffer zone are prohibited.

8. In the ceasefire zone the OSCE monitoring mission, consisting of the group of the organization's observers shall be deployed within 24 hours after the approval of this memorandum. It is desirable that the above mentioned zone shall be divided into sectors. The number of the sectors' borders shall be negotiated in the course of the preparation to the work of the OSCE monitoring mission's group of observers.

9. All the foreign armed groups, military equipment, as well as fighters and mercenaries shall withdraw from the Ukrainian territory under the supervision of the OSCE.


Minsk protocol, signed by the Trilateral negotiation group on September 5, addresses more issues and consists of 12 provisions. The protocol envisages a ceasefire and suggests, among other things, that Ukraine should adopt a law on granting special status to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and early elections of the heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics. The document also stipulates that the consent of the Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics with regard to the adoption of the law would not mean abandonment of their independence. The leaders of the self-defense forces also declared that they lay claim to all of the territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and would not consent to the "special status" only for the parts of the territories under their control.


September 16 Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, approved a law on special status of parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, submitted by President Petro Poroshenko. The law introduces self-administration, states that local elections are to take place in the regions on December 7 and guarantees the right to use Russian or any other language in Ukraine.

The law envisages that the local authorities would be able to make agreements with the central state bodies on economic, social and cultural development.

Moreover, these regions will be granted a special economic status, which will help to restore industry and infrastructure, as well as attract investments and create jobs.

The Contact Group on the Ukrainian crisis, comprising officials from Russia, Ukraine, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's republics and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, began a new round of talks in Belorussian capital, Minsk, on Friday.

The agenda of the talks mainly focused on the discussion of a document that would regulate the implementation of a ceasefire agreement between Kiev and independence supporters in eastern Ukraine, reached on September 5.

The meeting of the group on September 5 resulted in a fragile ceasefire between Kiev and independence supporters in eastern Ukraine.

The five-months conflict has already killed over 3,000 people and wreaked havoc on Ukraine's economy, also leading to the biggest confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

Σάββατο, Σεπτεμβρίου 13, 2014

Already fragile ceasefire under strain in east Ukraine

Fighting flared near an airport in eastern Ukraine in breach of a fragile eight-day ceasefire as the prime minister accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of planning to destroy his country.
Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said only membership of NATO would enable Ukraine to defend itself from external aggression.

Kiev and its Western backers accuse Moscow of sending troops and tanks into eastern Ukraine in support of pro-Russian separatists battling Ukrainian forces in a conflict that has killed more than 3,000 people. Russia denies the accusations.
A ceasefire negotiated by envoys from Ukraine, Russia, the separatists and Europe's OSCE security watchdog, has been in place in eastern Ukraine since Sept. 5 and is broadly holding despite regular but sporadic violations, especially in key flashpoints such as Donetsk.
Speaking at a conference in Kiev attended by Ukrainian and European lawmakers and business leaders on Saturday, Yatseniuk made clear he did not view the ceasefire as the start of a sustainable peace process because of Putin's ambitions.
"We are still in a stage of war and the key aggressor is the Russian Federation ... Putin wants another frozen conflict (in eastern Ukraine)," said Yatseniuk, a longtime fierce critic of Moscow and a supporter of Ukraine's eventual NATO membership.
  • Yatseniuk said Putin would not be content only with Crimea - annexed by Moscow in March - and with Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking eastern region.
  • "His goal is to take all of Ukraine ... Russia is a threat to the global order and to the security of the whole of Europe."
Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told a daily briefing that one soldier and 12 rebels had been killed in the past 24 hours, without specifying where they had died. That would bring the death toll among Ukrainian forces since the start of the ceasefire eight days ago to six.
The rebels have not said how many of their men have died in the same period.
  • Government forces still hold Donetsk airport, while the city is in separatist hands.
Putin says Russia has the right to defend its ethnic kin beyond its borders, though Moscow denies arming the rebels and helped broker the current ceasefire with Kiev.
Asked about future NATO membership, a red line for Russia, Yatseniuk said he realized the alliance was not ready now to admit Kiev, but added: "NATO in these particular circumstances is the only vehicle to protect Ukraine."
There is no prospect of the Atlantic alliance admitting Ukraine, a sprawling country of 45 million people between central Europe and Russia, but Kiev has stepped up cooperation with NATO in a range of areas and has pressed member states to sell it weapons to help defeat the separatists.
About 100 Russian trucks arrived today in the war-ravaged eastern city of Luhansk, part of a convoy sent to deliver 1,800 tonnes of humanitarian aid to residents.
It is the second such Russian aid convoy and it passed the border without any major difficulty. The first convoy in August was denounced by Ukraine and its Western allies for crossing the border without Kiev's permission.
The Ukraine conflict has triggered several waves of Western sanctions against Russia, most recently on Friday. The new measures, branded by Putin "a bit strange" in view of the ceasefire, target banks and oil companies.
Russia, which has already introduced bans on a range of US and European food imports, signaled it would respond with further sanctions of its own against Western interests.
Yatseniuk said on Saturday the latest sanctions posed a big threat to the Russian economy.
"It is bluff (by Russia) to say it does not care about the sanctions," he said, noting that Russia relied heavily on its energy sector and some of the sanctions targeted its oil firms.
Yatseniuk defended his government's efforts, despite the conflict, to tackle rampant corruption and overhaul the creaking economy, adding: "It is very hard to attract investors when you have Russian tanks and artillery in your country."
His center-right People's Front party is expected to do well in a parliamentary election on Oct. 26.
The conflict is taking a heavy toll on Ukraine's already battered economy, which is now being supported by a 17 billion dollar loan package from the International Monetary Fund.
  • The economy could shrink by as much as 10 percent this year, the head of Ukraine's central bank, Valeria Hontareva, was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying on Saturday, much more than the 6.5 percent decrease previously forecast by the IMF.
Yatseniuk praised a decision on Friday to delay the implementation of a new trade pact with the European Union until the end of 2015. He said it prolonged unilateral trade benefits now enjoyed by Ukrainian firms in the EU while maintaining modest customs duties on European products entering Ukraine.
  • Some have seen the decision to postpone the implementation of the deal as a diplomatic victory for Russia, which is opposed to closer economic ties between Kiev and the EU, but Yatseniuk said it would be good for Ukraine's own economy.
"We got a grace period. The EU opened its markets but Ukraine is still protected, so for Ukraine this is not a bad deal," he said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danylo Lubkivsky submitted his resignation, saying: "(The delay) sends the wrong signal - to the aggressor, to our allies and, above all, to Ukrainian citizens."

Παρασκευή, Σεπτεμβρίου 05, 2014

Poroshenko and militia leaders order to cease fire in Ukraine

The press service of the President of Ukraine said that Petro Poroshenko ordered the Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to cease fire starting from 18:00 local time (19:00 MSK), on September 5.

"Based on the appeal from Russian President Vladimir Putin to the leaders of illegal armed formations in the Donbass to cease fire, on the base of the protocol signed at the meeting of the trilateral contact group to implement the peace plan of the President of Ukraine, I herewith order the Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to cease fire starting from 18:00 on September 5," said Poroshenko.
Poroshenko also instructed the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the OSCE to ensure effective international control over the observance of ceasefire regime which should be bilateral.

The president also expects that these agreements, including ceasefire agreement and the release of hostages, will be observed strictly.

The Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk, Alexander Zakharchenko, also ordered militia forces to cease fire. "The order to cease fire from 18:00 has been given to all militia units,"said Deputy Prime Minister of the republic Andrei Purgin in Minsk on Friday.

At the same time, spokespeople for the Defense Ministry of the Donetsk Republic say that the Ukrainian troops continue combat actions in the Donbass region. "Forces of the enemy are shelling the outskirts of the city of Mariupol," Interfax reports with reference of a representative of the Donetsk Republic.

Δευτέρα, Σεπτεμβρίου 01, 2014

Ukraine's troops retreat from vital airport. (NATO membership)

Ukraine's military has pulled its forces back from defending a vital airport in the east against what is decribed as a column of Russian tanks, as President Petro Poroshenko accused Moscow of "direct and open aggression".
The withdrawal from the civilian airport outside the city of Luhansk was the latest in a string of reverses for Ukrainian forces fighting pro-Russian separatists who Kiev says have the direct support of hundreds of Russian troops and armour.

An army statement on Monday said Ukrainian paratroopers were engaging a Russian tank battalion near the airport.

Later, Andriy Lysenko, a military spokesman, said: "In the Luhansk direction, Ukrainian forces have received an order and have pulled back from the airport."
Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan, speaking from Mariupol said, "the airport is strategically vital because it was being held by Ukrainian paratroopers and they could easily be supplied by the air."
"It has now fallen to what Ukraine says at least one or maybe four Russian tanks in yet another setback which illustrates changing fortunes in this battle.
"It seems that the inevitable victory now looks impossible for the Ukrainian army, the militia are making big gains which Ukraine says is because of support from Russian regular forces and armoured units."
Poroshenko, speaking at a military academy in Kiev, said Russia's direct involvement in Ukraine's war against the
separatists in eastern Ukraine had tipped the balance on the battlefield and was the main reason for recent setbacks.

"Direct and open aggression has been launched against Ukraine from a neighbouring state. This has changed the
situation in the zone of conflict in a radical way," he said.

Moscow denies helping the rebels, who have set up "people's republics" in the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine and say they want to be part of the "Russian world" rather than a country which seeks integration into mainstream Europe.
Ukraine's defence minister warned on Monday that a "great war" has broken out with Russia over his country's future that could claim tens of thousands of lives.
"A great war has arrived at our doorstep - the likes of which Europe has not seen since World War II. 
"Unfortunately, the losses in such a war will be measured not in the hundreds but thousands and tens of thousands," Valeriy Geletey said.
NATO membership
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday that Ukraine's political leaders expect a new parliament to abandon the country's non-aligned status after an election next month in a possible prelude to an
application to join the military alliance.

Ukraine's former pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich, who was toppled in a revolution this year, had pursued non-aligned status since he took power 2010.
If Ukraine scrapped its non-alliance status after the October 26 vote, NATO would discuss with Kiev "how to move forward," Rasmussen said, but he said it was too early to say how long it might take for Ukraine to join the US-led alliance.
  • Formal Ukrainian membership in the Western military alliance would come with the full protection of a mutual defence pact with the US superpower, but negotiations to join the alliance can take years as potential members have to meet a series of political and military criteria.
"I understand that the current political leadership in Kiev envisages that the new parliament after the parliamentary election in Ukraine will change the legislation on non-alliance status," Rasmussen told a news conference in Brussels.
"We have to wait for elections, we have to wait for the legislative procedure in the new Ukrainian parliament," he said.

'Old guard'
If Ukraine's parliament passed legislation removing Ukraine's non-aligned status, Rasmussen said he said he would then expect Ukraine to raise the issue with NATO.
NATO denied Ukraine a fast track towards membership in 2008 when a previous pro-European government in Kiev tried to pursue closer ties with the alliance.
Until this government's apparent switch last week, Poroshenko, who was elected to succeed Yanokovich in June, had also said he did not back joining NATO because there was no popular support for it.
Poroshenko hopes the election will clear out many of the "old guard" who supported Yanukovich and produce a coalition able to push through vital economic and political reform after years of corrupt misrule and malpractice.

Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 29, 2014

Statement by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the events in Ukraine

From the Official Website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (Statements and speeches):

"The centrality given to false claims of Russian aggression and incursions by our troops and armoured vehicles in discussions of the crisis in Ukraine raises a number of serious questions.
Why do those clamouring for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council consistently block our proposals for a comprehensive discussion of the origins of the Ukrainian tragedy and for collective action on a solution that serves the interests of all Ukrainian people, and instead treat Ukraine like a bargaining chip in unilateral geopolitical schemes?

Why do our partners in the UN Security Council, the OSCE and other international organisations consistently refuse to discuss the aerial bombardment and shelling of Ukrainian cities and towns, where entire neighbourhoods, schools, kindergartens, hospitals and Orthodox churches are destroyed and civilians continue to be killed?
Why do the Western capitals continue only to urge the Kiev government to use “proportionate” force instead of denouncing these crimes?
In every other conflict in the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world, the West invariably opposes and demands an end to actions that harm civilians. And yet it takes the diametrically opposed position on southeast Ukraine in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.
Our partners surely understand that the military objective of the self-defence forces in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions is to push back Ukrainian forces to a distance where they are unable to use heavy weaponry, including multiple-launch rocket systems and ballistic missiles, against cities, killing innocent civilians and destroying critical infrastructure.
When Kiev says that negotiations will only begin after the capitulation of those it calls “separatists,” the self-defence forces are left with no choice but to keep fighting to defend their homes and families.
Regarding the detention of Russian military personnel in Ukraine, we have provided explanations of how they turned up in Ukraine. Ukrainian military personnel have entered Russia more than once, including with armoured vehicles. We provided them with medical treatment and other assistance and let them go. We expect Ukraine to act in a reciprocal way and without delay. 
We also call on Kiev to end provocations against Russian diplomatic missions and staff in Ukraine. The latest outrage, occurring on 28 August in Kiev, involved security staff of the Russian Embassy, including the bodyguard of the Russian Ambassador. They were detained while exiting a café under the patently fabricated charge of carrying grenades, even though they showed their diplomatic passports. We insist on the immediate release of all Russian Embassy staff and urge Kiev to refrain from further violations of international conventions on diplomatic immunity.
As for the issue of who is fighting and where, we have pointed out more than once that there are many volunteers from foreign countries fighting on both sides in Ukraine. We have repeatedly inquired about specific media reports on this matter with our partners, including the “work” of retired US Special Forces soldiers in Ukraine and the role of US advisers and instructors in planning the operations of Ukrainian forces. Of course, there are Russian volunteers in Ukraine, and they are fighting on both sides. But the selective outrage of the international community over this or that symptom of the Ukrainian crisis will not help end it. It is important not to give into the temptation to distract from the main issue: the need for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire followed quickly by an inclusive national dialogue in Ukraine. This is the goal which Kiev, the EU and the United States agreed on with Russia. We honour these agreements and urge our partners to stop torpedoing their implementation.
This is the only path forward, provided the West really cares about the interests of not only the loyal portion of Ukraine’s political spectrum, but the entire multiethnic population of the Ukrainian state, whose future depends on national reconciliation.
Russia will work persistently to create conditions for negotiations by fostering trust between the opposing sides and taking practical measures to de-escalate the situation and help people who are suffering from the humanitarian crisis. This is the message expressed by President Vladimir Putin in his address on 29 August. We are urging all sides in Ukraine and all Western partners to show the good will to find a purely peaceful solution to the problems we face."

Πέμπτη, Αυγούστου 28, 2014

Poroshenko cancels visit to Turkey, calls urgent Security Council meeting

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has cancelled a visit to Turkey and convened an urgent national security council meeting over the situation in the Donetsk region, the presidential press service said on Thursday.

"I have decided to cancel the working visit to Turkey in connection with the sharp deterioration of the situation in the Donetsk region, in particular in the Amvrosiyevka and Starobeshevo," he said.

Poroshenko also said a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council would be convened on Thursday to work out a plan of further action. 

Ukraine has also asked to convene a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

"The world must give an assessment to the sharp deterioration of the situation in Ukraine," Poroshenko said.

The Ukrainian president was to leave for Turkey for the inauguration of President Tayyip Erdogan. Poroshenko was planned to have seven bilateral meetings during the visit.


Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 23, 2014

Good borders make good neighbours, Merkel tells Ukraine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday the standoff over Ukraine could be solved only if control was tightened over the Ukraine-Russia border across which, the West alleges, Russia has been funnelling arms to help a separatist rebellion.

Merkel was visiting Kiev as a prelude to a meeting next week between the Russian and Ukrainian leaders that diplomats say is the best chance in months of a peace deal in eastern Ukraine, where government forces are fighting pro-Moscow rebels.

She arrived as tensions flared up again. NATO has alleged Russia's military is active inside Ukraine helping the rebels, and Moscow angered Kiev and its Western allies by sending an aid convoy into Ukraine against Kiev's wishes.

"There must be two sides to be successful. You cannot achieve peace on your own. I hope the talks with Russia will lead to success," Merkel said, looking ahead to the meeting on Tuesday involving Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko.

"The plans are on the table, about how you can achieve peace and good cooperation between the countries. Now actions must follow," she told a news briefing.

She said the main obstacle was the lack of controls along the nearly 2,000 km (1,300 mile) border. She proposed a deal between Kiev and Moscow on monitoring of the frontier by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

"Now we need a two-sided ceasefire linked to a clear controlling of the Russian-Ukrainian border, Otherwise peace won't be achieved," Merkel said.

Peace proposals

Diplomats say Merkel came to Kiev with two objectives: primarily to show support for Kiev but also to urge Poroshenko to be open to peace proposals when he meets Putin next week in the Belarus capital, Minsk.

Poroshenko, whose forces have been forcing the rebels to retreat, said Kiev had offered ceasefires before and they were flouted. He said no peace deal was worth sacrificing Ukraine's territorial integrity, and placed the blame at Russia's door.

"Ukraine is ready and capable of guaranteeing a peaceful settlement," Poroshenko said. "What is stopping us are the foreign mercenaries. Take the people with guns out of our territory....and peace in Ukraine will be quickly restored."....................http://www.france24.com/en/20140823-merkel-kiev-aid-convoy-returns-russia-ukraine/


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