After talks begin, new fighting in east Ukraine - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

After talks begin, new fighting in east Ukraine

By MARKO DROBNJAKOVIC and LAURA MILLS

Associated Press SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) - Government forces traded fire Monday with pro-Russian separatists who control an eastern Ukraine city, after the country's new president announced daily negotiations were underway toward ending the conflict.

Loud booms and shelling were heard in downtown Slovyansk, where at least six buildings bore damage from shelling a day earlier. The city has been an epicenter of a nearly two-month standoff between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels, who have seized administrative buildings, police stations and border posts across the region.

The clashes come a day after President Petro Poroshenko announced that negotiations had started in Kiev between Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Poroshenko said the meeting focused on strengthening the porous Ukraine-Russia border, and said Ukraine "must cease fire by the end of this week." While he promised the negotiators would meet daily until the crisis was resolved, he did not say whether results had been achieved on Sunday.

The OSCE, whose rotating presidency is currently held by Switzerland, said Heidi Tagliavini, a Swiss diplomat who has worked on crises in places like Chechnya and Georgia, was its representative in the negotiations. Poroshenko's office said Russia's ambassador to Ukraine and the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany also took part.

On Monday, Ukraine's acting defense minister, Mykhailo Koval, told journalists that Poroshenko was working toward bringing the conflict to an end "in the quickest time period," according to the Interfax news agency. He did not give a specific date. Russia has repeatedly called for Ukraine to end its operation in the east, while Ukraine has blamed Russia for fomenting tensions in the region and backing the rebels materially.

Fighting resumed Monday in Slovyansk, where residents said at least six buildings - including a petrol station, two shopping centers and two apartment buildings - had been hit by mortars a day earlier.

Andriy, a local plainclothes policeman who wouldn't give his last name, was standing with other officers in uniform near the debris.

"Yesterday the center of the city was hit the hardest," he said. "There were a lot of injured people, and a lot of buildings were hit that haven't been hit before."

Dozens of cars carrying civilians were seen leaving the city by road, and a bus with a sign in the windshield reading "children" left the city on Monday. The UN Refugee Agency estimated in late May that at least 10,000 people in Ukraine were internal refugees, a figure that has undoubtedly grown as both Ukrainian and Russian sides dig in. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that his government was providing aid to Ukrainian refugees within Russia, who he previously estimated to number about 4,000.

"They will end the shooting only when they erase us from the face of the planet, when nothing remains here but a flat space," said Svetlana, a 52-year-old resident of Slovyansk who would not give her last name. "Only then the war will be finished."

Rebels have held the Ukrainian government responsible for the rising number of civilian casualties in the conflict, while the Kiev leadership says the insurgents have attacked civilians in order to foment resentment against the government.

Government officials say at least 200 people - most of whom were civilians - have been killed in the conflict so far.

The spokesman for Ukraine's operation in the east, Vladislav Seleznev, wrote on Facebook late Sunday that the separatists were responsible for the shelling in Slovyansk.

___

Mills contributed reported from Kiev, Ukraine. Jim Heintz contributed reporting from Moscow.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • breaking

    Homeland Security drafts plan to end family separation

    Homeland Security drafts plan to end family separation

    Wednesday, June 20 2018 11:21 AM EDT2018-06-20 15:21:21 GMT
    Wednesday, June 20 2018 11:24 AM EDT2018-06-20 15:24:50 GMT
    That's according to two people familiar with her thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the effort before its official announcement. (Source: Raycom Media)That's according to two people familiar with her thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the effort before its official announcement. (Source: Raycom Media)

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is drafting an executive action for President Donald Trump that would direct DHS to keep families apprehended at the border together during detention and ask the...

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is drafting an executive action for President Donald Trump that would direct DHS to keep families apprehended at the border together during detention and ask the Department of Defense to help house them.

  • Trump stands firm on immigration policy, sees it as a winner

    Trump stands firm on immigration policy, sees it as a winner

    Wednesday, June 20 2018 1:21 AM EDT2018-06-20 05:21:15 GMT
    Wednesday, June 20 2018 11:15 AM EDT2018-06-20 15:15:05 GMT
    (AP Photo/Alex Brandon). President Donald Trump speaks in the Hall of Columns as he arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, to rally Republicans around a GOP immigration bill.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon). President Donald Trump speaks in the Hall of Columns as he arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, to rally Republicans around a GOP immigration bill.

    Trump sees his immigration policy as a winner with voters ahead of midterm elections in spite of controversy over separating children and parents.

    Trump sees his immigration policy as a winner with voters ahead of midterm elections in spite of controversy over separating children and parents.

  • APNewsBreak: Youngest migrants held in 'tender age' shelters

    APNewsBreak: Youngest migrants held in 'tender age' shelters

    Tuesday, June 19 2018 9:12 PM EDT2018-06-20 01:12:25 GMT
    Wednesday, June 20 2018 11:13 AM EDT2018-06-20 15:13:17 GMT
    Nicole Hernandez, of the Mexican state of Guerrero, holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)Nicole Hernandez, of the Mexican state of Guerrero, holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

    Migrant babies and young children are being held in special "tender age" shelters after being taken from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

    Migrant babies and young children are being held in special "tender age" shelters after being taken from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

Powered by Frankly