Kiev ready for Donbas talks only after local polls: Poroshenko
Iran Press TV
Thu May 28, 2015 4:5PM
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says Kiev will sit at the negotiating table with the leaders of the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas region only after "fair elections" there.
Addressing the 8th Kiev security forum on Thursday, Poroshenko said Kiev was only ready to hold talks with the representatives of a Donbas which, according to him, would be ruled by "Ukrainian" officials, and not the current pro-Moscow authorities there.
"We must ensure fair and transparent expression of the people's will, and we will maintain dialogue with Donbas, but this will be a different Donbas – a Ukrainian Donbas, after holding fair elections," he said.
In similar comments at the forum, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk also said he is prepared to negotiate with the current "illegitimate" leaders of Donetsk and Luhanks "only when they are behind bars."
"We will communicate only with the legitimate representatives of this region; we want to hold legitimate elections there," said the Ukrainian premier.
The comments come as clashes continue unabated between Kiev's army and pro-Moscow forces in Donetsk and Luhansk, the two mainly Russian-speaking regions in eastern Ukraine, despite a ceasefire deal signed between the two conflicting sides in February.
The peace deal urged both sides to withdraw heavy weaponry from conflict zones and then start negotiations on holding local elections in the restive eastern areas.
Kiev violations of Minsk accord
Meanwhile, an official from the Defense Ministry in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said Thursday that Kiev's forces had violated the ceasefire 30 times over the past 24 hours in the volatile area.
"Over the past 24 hours, 30 ceasefire regime violations by Ukraine's Armed Forces have been registered," said the official that was not named in the report.
Ukrainian forces have carried out the attacks with the use of tanks, antitank guided missiles, grenade launchers and small arms, he added.
On Wednesday, the spokesman for the DPR Defense Ministry, Eduard Basurin, also said "as a result of heavy shelling by the Ukrainian military, five civilians were killed: one woman, three men and an 11-year-old girl."
Nine other civilians including three women and three children were also wounded.
Fresh clashes in eastern Ukraine
This as earlier reports said that one Ukrainian soldier was killed and another one seriously injured in fresh clashes between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine.
"In the past 24 hours, fighting has taken place at several flashpoints along the line of contact in the Luhansk region," Luhansk Oblast governor, Hennadiy Moskal, said on Thursday.
Russian aid convoy at Ukrainian border
Meanwhile, a Russian humanitarian convoy has arrived at the border with Ukraine to deliver relief aid to violence-stricken civilians in Donetsk and Luhansk, National Crisis Management Center of the Russian Emergency Ministry said on Thursday.
The trucks, which are the 28th humanitarian convoy to Donbas since last August, are delivering 1,000 tons of aid to east Ukraine, including foodstuffs, building products for restoration works and medicines for health facilities.
Donetsk and Luhansk, mainly home to ethnic Russians, plunged into crisis after Kiev launched military operations to crush the pro-Russians in mid-April 2014.
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