Ukraine skeptical about talks; 6 soldiers killed

Comment: Off

Pro-Russian insurgents with the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic man a checkpoint by the Karl Marx coal mine seen in the background near Korsun, a small town about 30 km north-east from Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. The words on the wall of barricades read ” No fascism”. The Donetsk People’s Republic has proclaimed independence from Ukraine after a contentious autonomy referendum Sunday that has been rejected by the government and the international community. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Pro-Russian insurgents with the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic man a checkpoint by the Karl Marx coal mine seen in the background near Korsun, a small town about 30 km north-east from Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. The words on the wall of barricades read ” No fascism”. The Donetsk People’s Republic has proclaimed independence from Ukraine after a contentious autonomy referendum Sunday that has been rejected by the government and the international community. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, left, shakes hands with acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov during a meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Steinmeier flew to Ukraine Tuesday to help start talks between the Ukrainian government and its foes following the declaration of independence by two eastern region. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, left, and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk take part in a briefing in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Steinmeier flew to Ukraine Tuesday to help start talks between the Ukrainian government and its foes following the declaration of independence by two eastern regions. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

A woman rides a bicycle in front of destroyed barricades on a road leading into Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Residents of two restive regions in eastern Ukraine engulfed by a pro-Russian insurgency are casting ballots in contentious and hastily organized independence referenda. Sunday’s ballots seek approval for declaring so-called sovereign people’s republics in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where rebels have seized government buildings and clashed with police and Ukrainian troops. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

An armed pro-Russian man checks a car at the barricades on a road leading into Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government buildings and clashed with government forces during the past month, held Sunday’s referendum, which Ukraine’s acting president called a “sham” and Western governments said violated international law. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Buy AP Photo Reprints

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Germany’s foreign minister tried to broker a quick launch of talks between Ukraine’s central government and pro-Russia separatists yet Ukraine was skeptical Tuesday and fighting claimed six more lives in the restive east.

Six Ukrainian servicemen were ambushed and killed and eight others wounded Tuesday afternoon outside the town of Kramatorsk, the defense ministry said. They were attacked by at least 30 insurgents using grenade launchers and automatic weapons, it said in a statement.

Kramatorsk is in the Donetsk region, one of two in eastern Ukraine that declared independence on Monday.

Speaking at Kiev’s main airport, German envoy Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he came to support efforts to arrange a dialogue between Ukraine’s central government in Kiev and its pro-Russia opponents in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that form the nation’s eastern industrial heartland. Pro-Russia insurgents in those regions have seized government buildings and clashed with government forces for the past month.

Steinmeier’s trip is part of the road map for settling Ukraine’s crisis laid out by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a trans-Atlantic security group.

The OSCE plan calls on all sides to refrain from violence and urges amnesty for those involved in the unrest as well as talks on decentralization and the status of the Russian language. It envisages a quick launch of high-level round tables across the country bringing together national lawmakers and representatives of the central government and the regions.

But Ukrainian officials sounded skeptical Tuesday about the OSCE plan.

Speaking in Brussels, acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk thanked the Vienna-based OSCE but said Ukraine has drawn up its own “road map” for ending the crisis and noted the people of his country should settle the issue themselves.

Russia, meanwhile, called Tuesday for a swift implementation of the OSCE plan, saying its demand to end violence means that Kiev should stop its military operation to recapture buildings in the east, lift its blockade of cities and towns, pull its forces from eastern regions and release all insurgents.

“We are demanding (they) stop intimidating civilians by using force or threatening to use it,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It added that it expects separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions to respond in kind if Kiev does.

Russia also urged the United States and the European Union to persuade authorities in Kiev to prioritize discussions of giving more powers to Ukraine’s regions ahead of the country’s May 25 presidential vote.

Yevhen Perebiynis, spokesman for the Ukrainian foreign ministry, lamented Tuesday that the OSCE deal does not specifically oblige Russia to do anything. The Ukrainian government and the West have accused Russia of fomenting the mutiny in the east to derail Ukraine’s presidential vote and possibly grab more land.

“The de-escalation of the situation directly depends on whether Russia will stop sponsoring the terrorists, withdraw its troops from the border or whether it will call on terrorists lay down the arms and vacate the building they have seized,” Perebiynis said in comments carried by the Interfax Ukraine news agency.

The separatists held a referendum Sunday and claimed that about 90 percent of those who voted in Donetsk and Luhansk backed sovereignty. The two regions declared independence on Monday and those in Donetsk even asked to join Russia.

Ukraine’s acting president called the vote a sham and Western governments said it violated international law.

The Kremlin has shown no immediate intention of annexing eastern Ukraine like it did the strategic Crimean Peninsula in March. Instead, Moscow has pushed for talks between Ukraine’s central government and eastern

Comments

comments

About the Author