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Aug 21, 2014

Ukraine’s Poroshenko talks tough ahead of meetings with Merkel, Putin

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday he would call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to rein in pro-Russian separatists when the two men meet next week and told the Kremlin chief he had “a strong country, a strong army” behind him.

Poroshenko spoke as government forces, despite taking heavy losses themselves, thrust deeper into rebel-held territory in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east and kept the separatists whom they have battled since April on the back foot.

Aug 21, 2014

As Ukraine forces gain in east, focus of German diplomacy shifts

BERLIN/KIEV (Reuters) – After months of ratcheting up pressure on Vladimir Putin, concern is mounting in Berlin and other European capitals that an emboldened Ukraine’s military successes in the east are reducing the chances of a face-saving way out of the crisis for the Russian leader.

    As a result, the focus of German-led diplomatic efforts has shifted, according to senior officials, towards urging restraint from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and averting a humiliating defeat for pro-Russian rebels, a development that Berlin fears could elicit a strong response from Putin.

Aug 21, 2014

Insight – As Ukraine forces gain in east, focus of German diplomacy shifts

BERLIN/KIEV (Reuters) – After months of ratcheting up pressure on Vladimir Putin, concern is mounting in Berlin and other European capitals that an emboldened Ukraine’s military successes in the east are reducing the chances of a face-saving way out of the crisis for the Russian leader.

As a result, the focus of German-led diplomatic efforts has shifted, according to senior officials, towards urging restraint from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and averting a humiliating defeat for pro-Russian rebels, a development that Berlin fears could elicit a strong response from Putin.

Aug 21, 2014

Dozens die in Ukraine in street battles, Donetsk shelling

KIEV/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Heavy shelling hit residential neighborhoods in Ukraine’s rebel stronghold of Donetsk and government forces fought street battles in other towns on Wednesday as they sought to crush a four-month-old separatist rebellion.

The forces of the Western-backed Kiev government are steadily gaining the upper hand over the separatists in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine and are tightening the noose around the main rebel bastions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Aug 20, 2014

Street battles in eastern Ukraine town kill nine: ministry

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces fought street battles with separatist rebels in the eastern town of Ilovaisk overnight into Wednesday as they sought to isolate rebel strongholds near the Russian border, an Interior Ministry official said.

Nine pro-Ukrainian volunteer fighters, supporting Kiev’s forces, were killed in the fighting in Ilovaisk, which lies part way along the road from Donetsk, the region’s main hub, and the border with Russia, the official, Anton Gerashchenko, said.

Aug 19, 2014

Ukraine says fighting halts recovery of refugees’ bodies

KIEV (Reuters) – Fifteen bodies have been recovered from the site of an artillery strike on a refugee bus convoy in east Ukraine, but further operations have been suspended due to renewed fighting in the area, a Ukrainian military spokesman said on Tuesday.

The Kiev military has said pro-Russian separatists attacked the convoy on Monday, killing dozens of people including women and children, but it has yet to provide visual evidence. The separatists denied responsibility, and at least one of their leaders suggested no attack had occurred.

Aug 19, 2014

Dozens killed in attack on convoy, Ukraine says; rebels deny firing rocket

KIEV (Reuters) – Dozens of people, including women and children, were killed as they fled fighting in eastern Ukraine on Monday when their convoy of buses was hit by rocket fire, military spokesmen said.

Ukraine accused pro-Russian rebels of targeting the convoy, which it said was bearing white flags when it was hit near the eastern city of Luhansk. The separatists denied responsibility for the attack and one rebel leader suggested the incident might never have taken place.

Aug 18, 2014

Ukraine, rebels accuse each other of attacking refugee bus convoy

KIEV/BERLIN (Reuters) – Ukraine accused pro-Russian rebels on Monday of hitting a refugee convoy of buses with rocket fire near the eastern city of Luhansk, killing people trapped in the burning vehicles, but the separatists denied responsibility.

Government forces kept up pressure on the separatists in fighting overnight into Monday, blockading or recapturing rebel-held positions after international talks failed to reach agreement on a ceasefire.

Aug 16, 2014

Kiev says forces destroyed Russian armour inside Ukraine

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine said its artillery destroyed part of a Russian armoured column that entered its territory overnight and said its forces came under shellfire from Russia on Friday in what appeared to be a major military escalation between the ex-Soviet states.

Russia’s government denied its forces had crossed into Ukraine, calling the Ukrainian report “some kind of fantasy”, and in turn raised its own serious concerns about activity by the U.S.-led NATO defence alliance near its borders.

Aug 15, 2014

Kiev says its forces clashed with Russian troops inside Ukraine

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine said its forces had attacked and partly destroyed a Russian armoured column that entered Ukrainian territory overnight, a firefight which if confirmed would mark a dramatic worsening of the conflict.

Russia’s government denied its forces had crossed into Ukraine, and accused Kiev of trying to sabotage deliveries of aid, but European capitals accused the Kremlin of escalating the fighting.