MARIUPOL/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Fighting raged between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels just east of the strategic port of Mariupol on Friday, shortly before envoys from Ukraine and Russia were expected to announce a ceasefire as the starting point for a wider peace plan.
Sustained mortar and artillery fire were also heard in Donetsk, the rebels’ main stronghold in eastern Ukraine, from near the city’s airport which remains in government hands.
MARIUPOL, Ukraine, Sept 5 (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces
pounded pro-Russian rebels to the east of the port of Mariupol
on Friday, hours before envoys from Ukraine and Russia were
expected to announce a ceasefire as the starting point for a
wider peace plan.
Ukraine says its forces are trying to repel a big offensive
by the rebels to take Mariupol, a port city of around 500,000 on
the Sea of Azov crucial for its steel exports. It stands about
halfway between Russia and the Russian-annexed Crimea region.
MARIUPOL, Ukraine, Sept 4 (Reuters) – In the backyard of a
former school, masked volunteers snap to attention to mark the
creation of a new fighting unit in the port city of Mariupol in
The ragtag battalion was hurriedly put together from a group
of civilians including a piano teacher, bulldozer operator,
steel worker and bodybuilding instructor as pro-Russian rebels
advanced on Mariupol over the past week.
MARIUPOL/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukraine reinforced its defenses at the port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov on Thursday in anticipation of a rebel attack amid reports that pro-Russian separatists were advancing on the city with tanks and artillery.
Further north, in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, renewed shelling killed at least one woman and blew huge holes in residential buildings, a day before talks between Kiev and the separatists on a possible ceasefire.
NEWPORT Wales/MARIUPOL Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the main pro-Russian rebel leader said they would both order ceasefires on Friday, provided that an agreement is signed on a new peace plan to end the five month war in Ukraine’s east.
The first apparent breakthrough of its kind in the war comes after a week in which the pro-Moscow separatists scored major victories with what NATO says is the open support of thousands of Russian troops.
MARIUPOL, Ukraine, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Ukraine reinforced its
defences at the port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov on Thursday
in anticipation of a rebel attack amid reports that separatists
were advancing on the city with tanks and artillery.
Mariupol is Ukraine’s largest port on the Sea of Azov and
stands on the way to Russian-annexed Crimea. It has become a
focus of Ukrainian concern after rebels broke away from their
main strongholds further north and took the nearby coastal town
of Novoazovsk, to the east of Mariupol, in late August.
MARIUPOL, Ukraine, Sept 2 (Reuters) – The war is being
fought just over the hills. Civilians have started to flee the
city. But the men of the vast Ilyich iron and steel works in the
Ukrainain port of Mariupol are still in place, pouring molten
steel, running the rolling mill and pledging to defend their
factory and town from an onslaught by pro-Russian rebels.
Mariupol, a port of around half a million people, is the
next big city in the path of advancing rebels, who opened a new
front and scattered Ukrainian troops along the coast of the Azov
Sea last week with what Kiev says is help from the Russian army.
MOSCOW/MARIUPOL Ukraine (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Sunday for immediate talks on the “statehood” of southern and eastern Ukraine, although his spokesman said this did not mean Moscow now endorsed rebel calls for independence for territory they have seized.
The Kremlin leader’s remarks, two days after a public appearance in which he compared the Kiev government with Nazis and warned the West not to “mess with us”, came as Europe and the United States prepared possible further sanctions to halt what they say is direct Russian military involvement in the war in Ukraine.
KIEV/MARIUPOL Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukraine said one of its naval vessels came under artillery attack from the shore on Sunday, in what pro-Russian rebels claimed as the first sea victory of their separatist war.
“A Ukrainian border patrol cutter in the Azov Sea was attacked from the shore today. Artillery was used. A rescue operation is under way,” Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told Reuters.
NOVOAZOVSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces and residents in Ukraine’s eastern port of Mariupol braced for attack on Sunday from advancing pro-Russian rebels who Kiev says are backed by a Russian armored column in a new offensive that has tipped the balance in a five-month war.
Pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops both used bulldozers to dig trenches on Sunday along the new front, a 40-km (25 mile) strip of coastal highway on the Sea of Azov, with battle looming for a city of half a million people.