Ukraine mounts new attacks on rebels

Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksandr Turchnyov says Ukrainian forces have launched new military operations against pro-Russian separatists, hours after the expiration of a unilateral cease-fire.

Turchnyov made the announcement Tuesday in remarks to parliament after President Petro Poroshenko declared earlier he will not renew the cease-fire and promised new attacks on the rebels.

Poroshenko said in a statement early Tuesday that his decision was “a response to terrorists, rebels, looters,” and all those he said are “paralyzing the economy of the region.”

A short while later, he delivered the same message in a nationally televised address, as Kyiv’s Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted separatists in the eastern city of Kramatorsk saying combat has resumed.

The fragile truce, which expired Monday night, was touted as a chance for separatists to disarm and to start broader negotiations aimed at an amnesty and new regional elections. But rebels did not disarm, and the Kyiv government cited numerous instances of cease-fire violations since its June 20 declaration.

Poroshenko already had extended the cease-fire from seven to 10 days as part of a push to end fighting near the Russian border that has killed more than 400 people since April.

The Ukraine leader’s decision followed four-way talks on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

Afterward, the Kremlin said Putin stressed the importance of renewing the cease-fire and creating “a reliable mechanism of control over observance of the truce.”

US and European leaders have urged Russia to pressure rebels to end their fight, and have threatened to hit Moscow with further sanctions if the cross-border flow of fighters and weapons into Ukraine does not stop.


(Photo: Ukraine defence ministry)