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Tags: ukraine | bloodshed | rebels | clashes

Ukraine Bloodshed Rises as Rebels Defy Pullback

Thursday, 22 January 2015 07:17 AM

Ukraine’s army suffered its worst casualties in two weeks, while an attack in Donetsk killed eight civilians as the government accused its pro-Russian adversaries of ignoring a diplomatic push to withdraw heavy weaponry.

Ten servicemen died in the past 24 hours as troops pulled back from the Donetsk airport, an epicenter of clashes, a military spokesman said Thursday. Passengers at a tram stop in the city, the biggest in the conflict zone, were killed when a mortar hit. Russia’s foreign minister said earlier that talks late Wednesday in Berlin had yielded a consensus to remove artillery from the front lines of the 10-month conflict.

“Both sides want to improve their bargaining positions for serious negotiations on the future of” eastern Ukraine, Stefan Meister, an analyst at the German Council of Foreign Relations, said by phone from Berlin. “I’m afraid they don’t really have it under control and are starting a spiral of violence and heating up a war.”

Fighting has intensified since the previous round of negotiations collapsed last week and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warned of a “grave danger” of escalation in a Bloomberg Television interview on Wednesday. Ukraine and its allies in the U.S. and the European Union blame Russia for arming and aiding the rebels, while Russia accuses the Kiev government of a military onslaught against its own citizens.

The conflict has brought tensions between Russia and the U.S. to their highest pitch since the Cold War. More than 4,800 people have died, according to the United Nations.

Artillery, Rockets

The rebels continue to fire artillery and Grad rockets at troops, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said on its website. Ukraine has control over parts of the airport after leaving the ruined terminals, ministry spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov said.

The strike on the transport stop, which also wounded seven people, happened between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., Ilya Suzdalev, spokesman for the Donetsk regional government, said by phone. Each side blamed the other for the attack.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said talks with his Ukrainian, German and French counterparts made headway. Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Russia had agreed to “exercise the necessary influence” on the separatists, and that progress in that regard may bring a summit in Kazakhstan between the four nations’ leaders “one step closer.”

“The most important decision is the strong support to the urgent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the contact line,” Lavrov said in a statement. If the withdrawal happens, “we can speak about major de-escalation of the current conflict.”

Bond Talks

Ukrainian bonds fell, with benchmark 2017 dollar debt down 2 cents to a record 51.8 cents on the dollar, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The government will approach bondholders to negotiate more favorable terms after completing talks with the International Monetary Fund over aid to top up its $17 billion bailout, Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko said Wednesday in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Russia has more than 9,000 troops in Ukraine and more than 50,000 troops along the border, officials in Kiev said this week. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russian forces and weapons -- including tanks, artillery, armored vehicles and air-defense systems -- are feeding the conflict. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said “Russian-backed separatists” are undertaking a “very blatant land grab.”

Russia on Tuesday dismissed the notion its military is involved as “absolute nonsense.”

Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will hold further discussions in the near future on implementation of agreements including the original Sept. 5 cease-fire signed in Minsk, Belarus, according to Steinmeier. The talks are testing the “limits of patience” of all participants, he said.

© Copyright 2022 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Ukraine's army suffered its worst casualties in two weeks, while an attack in Donetsk killed eight civilians as the government accused its pro-Russian adversaries of ignoring a diplomatic push to withdraw heavy weaponry.Ten servicemen died in the past 24 hours as troops...
ukraine, bloodshed, rebels, clashes
Thursday, 22 January 2015 07:17 AM
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