Ukraine has proposed a time and a place for talks on Saturday on reaching a durable ceasefire with pro-independence militia, according to the Ukrainian president’s website. The Kiev government is currently awaiting a reply, while fighting in the east has killed 13 servicemen.
The website did not name the venue but a Western diplomat expected the talks to be held again in eastern Ukraine’s major industrial hub of Donetsk, where the eastern militia control key points.
In some of the worst violence since President Petro Poroshenko called off a 10-day unilateral ceasefire on June 30, Ukraine’s “anti-terrorist operation” (ATO) headquarters said at least 13 Ukrainian military personnel had been killed on Friday. More than 200 people on the government side have been killed, as well as hundreds of civilians and rebels. The fighting has spanned over two months in Russian-speaking eastern regions that want to join Russia.
Kiev said Ukrainian military personnel had sustained losses from sniper fire on its position near the flashpoint city of Slaviansk, where shelling has left roads pockmarked and buildings damaged and burnt out.
ATO headquarters said on Friday it had regained control of the nearby village of Mykolayivka after heavy fighting. “In the course of the operation, a large number of terrorists were taken prisoner and a significant arsenal of various weapons were taken,” a statement on Facebook said. Slaviansk, a city of 130,000, and surrounding villages have been the main focus of Ukraine’s military drive to force out fighters loyal to commander Igor Strelkov, a Muscovite.
Strelkov made an impassioned appeal to Russia on Friday, warning on a website that without Moscow’s help the entire region the eastern opposition lay claim to, known as Novorossiya (New Russia), would fall to Kiev’s forces. “Slaviansk will fall earlier than the rest,” he wrote.
Russia’s foreign ministry accused Ukraine of endangering innocent civilians in the region. “We call on the Ukrainian authorities to cease firing on civilian targets and residential areas,” it said.
Report compiled with information from Reuters.