الإثنين , مايو 17 2021

More Ukraine talks amid new clashes

A pro-Russian fighter outside a Ukrainian military site captured by rebels in the city of Donetsk - 27 June 2014Some rebel leaders refused to observe the ceasefire and clashes with government troops have continued

EU leaders held talks with the presidents of Ukraine and Russia on Sunday as a truce between government forces and separatists neared its end.

The joint telephone conference, which lasted more than two hours, came after new clashes in the east of the country.

A Ukraine military spokesman says five soldiers were killed in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions at the weekend.

Meanwhile, protesters angered by the ceasefire gathered outside President Poroshenko’s offices in Kiev on Sunday.

One demonstrator told Reuters news agency that the temporary truce “didn’t bring any results, except deaths of our soldiers”.

The ceasefire was extended on Friday for three days and is due to end on Monday at 23:00 local time (20:00 GMT).

Some rebel leaders refused to observe the truce and low level attacks have continued over the weekend.

Protesters gathered in Kiev to show their anger at the temporary ceasefire between government troops and rebels in the east of Ukraine - 29 June 2014Protesters gathered in Kiev on Sunday to voice their anger at President Poroshenko’s truce with rebels

A man holds a sign saying We talk - they kill! during a protest against the ceasefire in Independence Square in Kiev - 29 June 2014One man at the demonstrations in the capital carried a sign saying: “We talk – they kill!”

A local resident peers out through a damaged window in an apartment block in Sloviansk that was reportedly shelled - 29 June 2014There were renewed clashes in Sloviansk on Sunday with both sides accusing one another of firing shells

Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskyy said five Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and at least 17 wounded in clashes in the east of Ukraine.

He also said pro-Russian rebels had seized an air defence unit in Donetsk and captured six soldiers, although this has not been independently verified.

Elsewhere, there were renewed clashes in the rebel stronghold of Sloviansk with government troops and armed separatists accusing one another firing shells in the city.

Photographs showed a badly damaged apartment block and there were reports of civilian casualties but this has not been confirmed.

EU pressure

President Poroshenko extended the ceasefire in a bid to make some progress on his 15-point peace plan.

The plan involves decentralising power and holding early local and parliamentary elections.

The European Union has threatened to impose more sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin unless he puts pressure on pro-Russia rebels to lay down their arms.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande held their second talks in a week with Mr Poroshenko and the Russian leader on Sunday.

A pro-Russian gunman next to a sign that reads Stop! shoot without warning at a captured Ukrainian National Guard compound in Donetsk city - 28 June 2014The separatists in eastern Ukraine continue to occupy several government and military buildings

The leaders discussed the importance of the ceasefire and the implementation of the peace plan, according to a statement (in French) from President Hollande’s office.

Chancellor Merkel warned Russia on Friday the EU was prepared for “drastic measures” if no progress was made on the peace plan.

Her warning came as Mr Poroshenko signed a landmark EU trade pact – an agreement that triggered the recent crisis.

The refusal of Mr Poroshenko’s predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, to sign the EU deal – under pressure from Russia – led to protests in Kiev and his eventual overthrow this year.

Russia then annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region, and separatists in the east declared independence from Ukraine.

More than 420 people have been killed in fighting between pro-Russia rebels and government forces in eastern Ukraine since mid-April, the UN estimates.

Map showing eastern Ukraine

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