KIEV/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Government forces tightened the noose around the main stronghold of pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine on Saturday and, with diplomacy stalled, Moscow and the West stepped up their war of words.
The seizure of Krasnogorovka and Staromikhailovka, towns just outside Donetsk, brought the army to the edge of one of the last cities still in rebel hands following its advances in the past month. The other is Luhansk, near the border with Russia.
KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Friday the military conflict with pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country must not be allowed to hold up economic reforms.
Hailing the passage of legislation by parliament on Thursday which enables the government to increase funding to the army, Poroshenko said unity was vital in Kiev to overcome an economic crisis as well as defeat the rebels.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Vladimir Putin risks becoming an international pariah over the Ukraine crisis but the Russian president is battening down the hatches for the gathering economic and political storm.
The United States and the European Union saw the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 as a chance for Putin to distance himself from pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine and seal the border across which they say arms are reaching the rebels.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin is in the “last chance saloon” over the Ukraine crisis but appears to be doing little to get out of it.
Since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was brought down over east Ukraine, Putin has been under intense international pressure to persuade pro-Russian separatists accused by the West of shooting it down to stop fighting.
MOSCOW, July 7 (Reuters) – Three weeks before Ukraine’s army
forced rebel fighters out of the strategic eastern city of
Slaviansk, their commander made a desperate plea for military
help from Russia.
“A week will pass, two, three, maybe a month, and the
rebellion’s best fighters will be bled dry and, sooner or later,
crushed and destroyed,” Igor Girkin, who is better known as
Strelkov, said in a comments widely viewed online.
MOSCOW/CHISINAU, Moldova, June 27 (Reuters) – Moldova hailed
political and trade pacts signed with the European Union on
Friday as a David-and-Goliath triumph after decades of
domination by its former Soviet masters in Moscow.
The pro-Western leaders of the impoverished country of 3.5
million may still have a struggle on their hands after Russian
warnings not to sign accords that put it on a course taking it
further out of Moscow’s sphere of influence.
KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s leaders are puzzling over how to cut off Russian support for a separatist rebellion in the east of the country but one of its richest men thinks he has the answer.
Billionaire businessman Ihor Kolomoisky has suggested building a wall along the almost 2,000 km (1,200-mile) land border with Russia to prevent fighters and weapons flooding in.
KIEV/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia accused Ukraine’s acting foreign minister on Sunday of “going beyond the limits of decency” by calling President Vladimir Putin a “dickhead” during a violent protest outside its embassy in Kiev.
A senior member of Russian parliament called for Andriy Deshchytsia to resign and Moscow protested to Kiev about Saturday’s violence, during which cars were overturned, windows broken and a Russian flag ripped up.
KIEV/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Church bells rang out over Kiev’s Maidan square and hundreds of mourners bowed their heads in silence on Sunday, a national day of mourning, to honor 49 Ukrainian servicemen killed by pro-Russian separatists.
But some 600 km (375 miles) away to the east in the city of Donetsk, heart of an armed insurgency against central rule by Kiev, there were few signs of mourning as people enjoyed a lazy stroll, sipped coffee in cafes and watched their children play.
KIEV/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Senior Russian parliamentarians urged Ukraine on Sunday to sack its foreign minister for calling President Vladimir Putin a “dickhead” during a violent protest outside Russia’s embassy in Kiev.
Acting Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia tried to persuade protesters not to use violence at the rally on Saturday evening, during which the Russian flag was ripped up, vehicles overturned and stones and eggs thrown at the embassy.