Ukraine ‘Regrouping’ Forces To Defend East

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says his forces are “regrouping” in the east of the country after provocation from Russian “terrorists”.The move does not amount to a new offensive against pro-Moscow separatists, but is simply a move to defend Ukraine’s territory, he said.

Mr Poroshenko said the four-day ceasefire has been difficult to maintain because of the rebels’ actions.

On Wednesday morning, he signed a law which allowed for fresh economic sanctions to be imposed on Russian individuals and companies who have been backing rebels in eastern Ukraine.

There are also parliamentary plans for a “special status” – giving greater autonomy – for Donetsk and Luhansk within the next week.

Despite the concerns raised during a televised government meeting in Kiev, a spokesperson for the Kremlin said Russia and Ukraine are happy with how the ceasefire is holding “on the whole”.

It came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that Ukraine could be facing a health emergency because its medicine supplies are dwindling.

Dorit Nitzan, the UN health agency’s representative in Kiev, warned: “Ukraine has no vaccines … they don’t have any vaccines in their storage. Even before the crisis began they had low (immunisation) coverage.”

The professor’s main concern is that there could be an outbreak of polio, a disease which mainly affects young children, as it “usually comes in countries of turmoil”.

The European Union is set to discuss when its new sanctions against Russia, which were formally agreed on Monday, should be implemented.

EU President Herman van Rompuy confirmed there would be “an assessment of the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the peace plan”.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is also planning to deploy drones in the region to monitor whether the ceasefire is holding.

Mr Poroshenko said Russia had moved 70% of its forces “back across the border” from eastern Ukraine.

“This further strengthens our hope that the peace initiatives have good prospects,” he said.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International says it has evidence that both sides have committed war crimes.

At a news conference in Moscow, the group’s secretary general, Salil Shetty, warned that some separatists, along with Ukraine’s Aidar battalion, were responsible for human rights abuses.

“Amnesty International has called the conflict in Ukraine an international conflict, and Russia a party to that conflict,” he added.

More than 3,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Recommend to friends
  • gplus
  • pinterest