Fighting continues in Ukraine despite ceasefire


Fighting flared between Ukrainian and pro-Moscow separatist forces, both sides reported on Sunday, further straining a unilateral ceasefire declared by Ukraine as Russian President Vladimir Putin pressed Kiev to talk to the rebels.

Mr Putin and the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, at separate ceremonies marking the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, both stressed the need to bring peace to Ukraine’s rebellious east.

The seven-day ceasefire came under pressure almost as soon at it began on Friday, with the government accusing the separatists of attacking its military bases and posts on the Russian border. The violence continued on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, what we are seeing... tells us that the fighting is still going on and last night we saw some active use of artillery from the Ukrainian side,” Mr Putin said after laying flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow.


He said it was not clear whether artillery was used by the Ukrainian army or the “so-called paramilitary of the right-wing forces” supporting the Kiev government.

Ukraine’s state border service reported further rebel attacks on its posts in Luhansk region.

Mr Poroshenko wants Mr Putin’s unqualified backing for a peace plan he announced on Friday, before meetings with the European Union this week. In his comments published on the Kremlin website, Mr Putin repeated his support for the ceasefire and peace plan in only general terms. “We need to ensure that all fighting is stopped,” he said. “Ultimately the political process is the most important. It is important that this ceasefire lead to dialogue between all opposing sides in order to find compromises.”

French President François  Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Mr Putin by telephone yesterday to work for the resumption of talks to end the conflict, Mr Hollande’s office said. The two leaders “reiterated the importance of ensuring full control of the Russia-Ukraine border to prevent the infiltration of gunmen and military equipment”, the statement said.