BELGRADE (Reuters) – Near-zero inflation, an economy in contraction and the safety net of an IMF loan deal may give Serbia’s central bank cause to cut interest rates for the first time since November when it meets on Thursday.
Seven of 14 bankers and analysts polled by Reuters this week and last predicted the bank would cut its benchmark rate, the highest in the region, by between 25 and 50 basis points, trying to ward off deflation and prop up an economy forecast to contract for a second year running.
DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine were due to attend a peace summit on Wednesday, but Ukraine’s pro-Moscow separatists diminished the chance of a deal by launching some of the war’s worst fighting in an assault on a government garrison.
Kiev said 19 of its soldiers were killed in a day of pro-Russian separatist assaults at a single location near the railway hub of Debaltseve, some of the worst losses it has reported in nine months of war.
VUHLEHIRSK/KRAMATORSK, Ukraine, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Rockets
killed civilians and soldiers deep in Ukrainian government-held
territory on Tuesday and rebels pushed on with an assault to cut
off an army-held rail junction, setbacks that showed Kiev’s
position worsening on the eve of peace talks.
Advances by pro-Russian rebels diminished hopes of a deal
when Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany hold a summit in Minsk
on Wednesday under a new Franco-German initiative to halt
fighting in a war that has killed more than 5,000 people.
VUHLEHIRSK/KRAMATORSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Rebel fighters made a push on Tuesday to cut off a government-held road and rail junction in east Ukraine, vowing on the eve of peace talks that they would not cease fire until they had achieved their aim of taking more territory.
Some 30 km (50 miles) north of the front line, in government-held Kramatorsk, rockets slammed into the headquarters of Ukraine’s local military operation and a nearby district of residential apartment blocks. The rebels denied firing on the town.
DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko will not be present at a summit on east Ukraine this week but his actions will help determine the success or failure of any peace deal.
While Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen in the West as holding the key to peace, Zakharchenko is regarded vital for ensuring Moscow’s decisions are implemented.
WASHINGTON/DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama made clear he was some way from a decision on whether to arm Ukraine in its conflict against Russian-backed rebels, saying on Monday he still hoped for a diplomatic solution.
“The measure by which I make these decisions is: ‘Is it more likely to be effective than not?’,” Obama said at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who opposes providing Ukraine with weapons to fight separatists in its east.
WASHINGTON/DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to argue against arming Ukraine in its conflict against Russian-backed rebels in Washington on Monday in the face of intense U.S. Congressional pressure.
Merkel’s message that sending Western weapons to Kiev risks escalating the conflict is likely to get a sympathetic hearing when she meets President Barack Obama later in the day.
DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian separatists have intensified shelling of government forces on all front lines and appear to be amassing forces for new offensives on the key railway town of Debaltseve and the coastal city of Mariupol, Ukraine’s military said on Saturday.
Five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and 26 wounded in fighting in the past 24 hours, spokesman Volodymyr Polyovy told a briefing in Kiev.
DEBALTSEVE, Ukraine, Feb 6 (Reuters) – Convoys of buses
carrying many local residents to safety left the besieged town
of Debaltseve in eastern Ukraine on Friday as government forces
kept up artillery fire to defend their positions against
The two convoys of empty buses, one of around 20 vehicles
coming from territory controlled by the Ukrainian army and
another of more than 30 from the rebel-held city of Donetsk
converged in Debaltseve town centre’s narrow streets and a small
square near the district administration building.
VUHLEHIRSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian rebels appeared to be in full control on Wednesday of one of the towns that has been a principal target of their advance, as they attempt to surround a nearby garrison of Ukrainian forces.
The apparent fall of the town of Vuhlehirsk would be a setback for Kiev, which has been trying to defend it and the larger neighbouring town of Debaltseve, an important rail hub, from encirclement by advancing rebels.