Kiev promises 'restraint' as army nears rebels

2014-07-10 12:33
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko gestures, during a press conference, in Kiev, Ukraine. (File, AP)

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko gestures, during a press conference, in Kiev, Ukraine. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lugansk - Rebel strongholds in eastern Ukraine braced for more fighting on Thursday as Western leaders piled pressure on Kiev to strike a truce with pro-Russian separatists.

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a telephone call urged the Western-backed President Petro Poroshenko to move toward a political solution and said he promised to exercise "restraint" in the continuing drive to establish control in eastern Ukraine.

Poroshenko said however that the rebels were still receiving weapons from Russian territory and lamented a "lack of progress" in even agreeing the next round of talks with Moscow.

In Lugansk - one of two regional capitals still held by the insurgents - the streets were deserted and an AFP team heard regular artillery fire to the north of the city with shooting seeming to be focused around the rebels' military headquarters.

The Ukrainian defence ministry said that troops had to repel a rebel attack on the Lugansk airport.

"Let them bomb us, let them kill us," said a distraught local resident who gave her name as Olga. "We have nowhere to go. Where could we go?" asked her husband Yevgeny.

The couple said they were trying to get their young son out of town as he was too scared to sleep at night.

Three people were killed in the city and five injured in the past 24 hours, local authorities said.

Another three servicemen were killed and four injured in clashes across east Ukraine in the same period, Kiev's National Security and Defence Council said Wednesday.

In Slavyansk, the flashpoint town that was left by the rebels at the weekend, shell-shocked residents said they had hopes that Kiev's promises to rebuild it from the rubble were not just words.

"If [Poroshenko] wants to be the president of the whole country, I think they will rebuild it," 62-year-old pensioner Nina said after meeting the Ukrainian leader on Tuesday evening on his lightning visit to the ravaged Slavyansk where basic supplies were now distributed to queues of people.

Diplomatic tug-of-war

The three-way call between Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko lasted 40 minutes, and Paris said it resulted in assurances by the Ukrainian leader to "exercise necessary restraint... to spare civilians" as Kiev is faced with the rebels now housed in the much larger city of Donetsk.

But Poroshenko also said that the situation was aggravated by Russia, as militants continued to receive weapons from across the border, and said there was "lack of progress from Russia" in de-escalating the crisis.

He said air force officer Nadiya Savchenko, who was captured by militants in eastern Ukraine, was now in a jail in the central Russian city of Voronezh, calling it "unacceptable".

Russia said on Wednesday that Savchenko, known as "GI Jane" in her home country, had been arrested and charged with accessory to murder over the killing of Russian state television journalists in June, and that she crossed the border herself without documents, pretending to be a refugee.

The Kremlin has been unusually restrained since the string of military advances by Kiev with analysts saying President Vladimir Putin could be distancing himself from the rebels despite calls from hawks to send troops across the border.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated calls from Moscow for Ukraine to sit down with the rebel leaders without "conditions".

"They [the rebels] are not ready to fulfil Kiev's ultimatums to capitulate and lay down their arms before negotiations begin," Lavrov said at a press conference with Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, who later met with Putin.

Washington meanwhile said that tougher economic sanctions, which could be catastrophic for the Russian economy, were imminent unless Moscow demonstrates a clean break from separatists.

"We are ready to impose more costs - including targeted, sector-specific sanctions - very soon if Russia does not decisively change course and break its ties with separatists," Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The United States views Ukraine's territorial integrity as vital to European security and important to halting Putin's seeming ambition to resurrect a tsarist or post-Soviet empire.

The EU is set to add 11 new names to its list of 61 Russians and pro-Russians in Ukraine already targeted by sanctions, EU officials said after a meeting of ambassadors from the 28-member bloc.

A "preliminary agreement" reached by the envoys is to be made official within the next few days.

'20km from Donetsk'

Ukraine's military says it controls all routes in and out of Donetsk and Lugansk and defence council spokesperson Andriy Lysenko warned a plan was in place that would give the rebels an "unpleasant surprise".

"We are already 20km from Donetsk," Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Wednesday. "We will chase them until they find themselves in the other Donetsk," referring to a small Russian border town.

Following the retreat rebel military chief Igor Strelkov - whom Kiev accuses of being a Russian intelligence officer - said the insurgents were working to boost their weak defences around Donetsk and bolster their numbers.

On Wednesday Strelkov said in an interview on a separatist TV channel that he needed at least 8 000 more men to hold Donetsk, though without saying how many fighters were in his regrouped army.
Read more on:    petro poroshenko  |  sergei lavrov  |  ukraine
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Be open, network and share your intentions and ideas as these may be the vital seeds to the imminent change that can be starting...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.