KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Tuesday government forces would renew offensive operations against rebels and “free our lands”, hours after a ceasefire to allow for peace talks with the pro-Russian separatists had expired.
Poroshenko, who accuses Russia of fanning violence in eastern Ukraine, dismissed Moscow’s offers to defuse the crisis, and blamed the rebels for failing to keep to the truce or follow a peace plan he had outlined. “We will attack and free our lands. The decision not to continue the ceasefire is our answer to terrorists, militants and marauders,” he said in a televised statement delivered in front of the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag.
KIEV (Reuters) – Fighting flared between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists around the eastern flashpoint city of Slaviansk on Sunday despite a truce extended until Monday night, a deadline also set by EU leaders considering new sanctions against Russia.
The European Union said it could impose more penalties on Moscow on top of existing asset freezes and visa bans unless pro-Russian rebels act to wind down the crisis in the east of the country by Monday.
SNIZHNYE Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian rebels in the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhnye raised their fists in solidarity as tanks, fitted with camouflaged protective armour, rolled past, tearing up the pavement and scaring passers-by.
The tanks drove off in a cloud of smoke to cheers from the rebels, circled one of the border town’s central roundabouts and drove off to an unknown destination.
SLAVIANSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Dozens of charred bicycles stand upright in the rubble of a burnt-out sports shop in Slaviansk, a strategic stronghold for pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
After a week of intensified shelling by government forces, windows of buildings on the outskirts of the city have been blown out, fires have gutted stores and the hulks of damaged Soviet-era cars lie abandoned in the road.
MARYNIVKA/LUHANSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukrainian border guards stand grim-faced and nervous at the remote Marynivka checkpoint on the frontier with Russia, fearing an attack by pro-Moscow separatists at any time.
Last week they fought off an assault by up to 150 rebels seeking control over supply routes from Russia to bring in arms and other war materials, forcing them to abandon two armored personnel carriers strafed with machinegun fire.
SLAVIANSK/LUHANSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian separatists poured scorn on peace overtures from Ukraine’s new president Petro Poroshenko on Saturday as fighting rumbled on in the east of the country.
Taking the oath of office in Kiev, Poroshenko appealed to the rebels to lay down their arms, offering peaceful dialogue and immunity from prosecution to “those who don’t have blood on their hands”.
MARYNIVKA Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian separatists operating from the grounds of a church in the eastern city of Slaviansk killed a member of the Ukrainian interior ministry’s special forces and seriously wounded two others in a mortar attack on Friday, the ministry said.
Slaviansk has been at the heart of a two-month insurgency in the Russian-speaking east by rebels opposed to the overthrow of a Moscow-leaning president and the formation in Kiev of a pro-European government.
LUHANSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Stepping over shrapnel strewn across a leafy park in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk, pro-Russian rebel leader Vasily Nikitin gives his version of what happened in the few seconds of violence that killed eight people in broad daylight.
He says the sharp, twisted pieces of metal he and others collected from the grass, off the street, from behind the tires of a blood-smeared white Nissan Maxima is proof the Ukrainian army shot unguided S-8KO cluster bombs into the park and a nearby rebel headquarters, causing an explosion.
DONETSK, Ukraine/MOSCOW, June 2 (Reuters) – Russia and
Ukraine agreed on Monday to consider a proposal for Kiev to pay
off a multi-billion-dollar gas bill that has soured relations
between Moscow and Kiev, while fighting raged all day in eastern
Russia accused NATO of whipping up dangerous tensions near
its borders and encouraging Ukraine to use force against
pro-Russian separatists. At a tense meeting in Brussels, the
alliance urged Moscow to stop arming the rebels.
DONETSK Ukraine/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia accused Ukrainian authorities on Monday of escalating violence against civilians in the rebel-held east of the country, even as it offered Kiev a brief respite in a dispute over billions of dollars’ worth of unpaid gas bills.
In the latest fighting, Ukrainian border guards said a pro-Russian militia had attacked one of their posts with automatic weapons and grenade launchers in the early hours, triggering a battle that was still raging many hours later.