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Ukraine Fighting Continues as Peace Talks Fail Again

by VOA News February 01, 2015

Authorities in Kyiv say at least 13 Ukrainian soldiers, and seven civilians, have been killed over the past 24 hours in fighting in the eastern part of the country, following the collapse of peace talks aimed at de-escalating the crisis.

At least 20 soldiers were also wounded as separatists attacked villages around the strategic transport hub of Debaltseve.

There was no immediate word on casualties on the rebels' side.

The latest fighting comes one day after peace talks between Ukraine and pro-Russia separatists were held, but went nowhere as fighting raged.

The talks in Minsk Saturday were adjourned after several hours. A statement from the Trilateral Contact Group (Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe - OSCE) said that the representatives from the rebel-held areas of Ukraine did not come to the talks prepared to discuss implementation of a cease-fire and withdrawal of heavy weapons. Instead, the group said the rebels wanted to revisit the Minsk Protocol that laid the groundwork for a cessation of hostilities.

The cease-fire the sides agreed to in September has been repeatedly violated and collapsed completely last week when rebels announced the start of a new offensive designed to expand their territory.

The Ukraine conflict has killed more than 5,100 people since it erupted last April following Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko had called for the new round of peace talks in response to the recent upsurge in fighting.



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