In Digest, Ukraine

Deutsche Welle, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014

Talks aimed at reaching a lasting ceasefire between Ukraine forces and pro-Russia rebels have ended in Minsk. They are tentatively due to resume on Friday, but there is no word if this will happen.

The discussions got underway on Wednesday in Minsk, ending after about five hours with no word on progress. One of the main goals was to secure a shaky ceasefire previously agreed in the Belarusian capital back in September.

That deal failed to stop the fighting between Ukraine’s forces and pro-Moscow separatists, although Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said earlier this month that a “real” truce was in place.

Other measures believed discussed were a withdrawal of heavy weapons by both Ukrainian government forces and the pro-Russia separatists, as well as a prisoner swap.

Wednesday’s talks, labeled as a preliminary discussion, are due to resume on Friday at which a final accord is set to be signed. However, there are indications this might not happen.

“We had a difficult preliminary meeting,” Donetsk separatist region leader Denis Pushilin told a pro-rebel news site, quoted by news agency AFP.

“The date and time of the next meeting is still up in the air. It is under discussion,” Pushilin said. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said after the session that it was unclear whether Friday’s talks would take place.

Left in the dark

Wednesday’s negotiations involved representatives of the Ukrainian and Russian governments, as well as pro-Russia separatists and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

News media were not allowed to access the talks and delegates left afterwards without making comment to reporters.

More than 4,600 people have been killed since the fighting in the eastern Ukraine regions of Donetsk and Luhansk broke out in April, following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Ukraine and the West have accused Moscow of stoking the fires of conflict in eastern Ukraine by supplying the separatists with troops and weapons, something the Kremlin has denied.

* * *

New Cold War editor: The following report was received by on Dec. 24 from an activist in Donetsk region.

So, ladies and gentlemen and comrades, the ‘ceasefire’ is finished. In western and north-western districts of the city of Horlovka, there is fierce fighting between the Ukrainian army and the army of People’s Republic. The thunder of artillery fire is heard in remote districts. From both sides, military forces are being driven to the point of fighting. Civilians are terrified.

13.30 – The sounds of rocket fire are heard in southeast Horlovka. Then grenade-launchers started to fire. Both sides are preparing to make a breakthrough…




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